Is everything hunky dory?
It better be.
Fern asked how I spent my days and I was hard pressed for an answer. I didn’t have an answer for her.
I collect coupons. I should have said that I collect coupons and write yelp reviews about coffee shop loyalty. I should have said that I tinker with my script and have long conversations with my expensive, world-renowned lawyers about THE LAWSUIT.
I should have told her about the house I want to buy upstate. I should have told her that I dream most of the day and that’s ok.
That my day is full of dreaming and dreaming and dreaming and that’s okay.
I should have replied that I have long lunches with beautiful men that I meet in AA.
I should have told her that I found this piece by Robert Indiana.
I should have said that I go stay in The Hamptons with show girls and equity trading billionaires. Billionaires who say things like, “I saw them at Frieze and I bought all of them.” Showgirls who, knowing someone else is paying, fills up the super market cart with pies and cream and cookies. Knowing that someone else is paying.
I should have told Fern that for the past month I have been seeing this man/boy who makes me laugh so hard I nearly pee myself. That we dress up and take pictures of each other.
We have been hanging out in bars with models and freaks and transsexuals. We have been exploring Williamsburg. We have been to book launches and fancy lunches.
Michael Costiff had a book signing at the Marc Jacobs book store on Bleecker St. There was an after party at the Soho Grand.
Diego arrived from Paris and we ate lunch with Hamish in The Gramercy Park Hotel.
I should have told her that I met Orlando Soria who is a dream and has a huge, winning smile and writes a fantastic blog that you can read here.
My friends from New Jersey supported a young artist so I took Ryan. Ryan comes everywhere. Like a sweet puppy.
Philomena, starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, is the story of a teenage girl who gets pregnant, is sent away to a convent to have her baby. The baby is consequently sold to rich Americans. It is a gut wrenching film. I cried nearly all the way through. Fern stayed dry-eyed throughout. I thought about my own mother and remembered that this was her story too. Teenage pregnancy, sent away to a local convent to scrub floors until I was born into a pool of blood and shame.
After the film we sat 30 floors above Manhattan in a bar called The Skylark. I met Sophie Kennedy Clark the girl who plays the young Philomena Lee. We smoked rolled cigarettes on the terrace and she explained that Vivienne Westwood had dressed her. That Vivienne had told her to take a pair of scissors to the dress if she needed or wanted to.
I met Philomena Lee and told her about my mother. She held my hand.
Woke up early. Wanted to get the daub onto the stove. It’d been marinating all night.
Then, something about the process, the action of stirring the pot, as it began to simmer…broke something in me. Like I was having a rare moment of clarity, sanity…and I felt a terrible guilt for the way I had treated…not him…but his parents…drawing them into our drama. Collateral damage.
I wanted to write to them and tell them how sorry I was.
They were innocent.
Then I found that Avadon picture of Ginsberg and his long-term lover Orlovsky. And I thought about them ‘long-term’ and what they were thinking, or not thinking when they kissed for the camera.
I thought about the way they, we…I…describe what we have as long term.
Long term insists that we take what they had seriously. Ginsberg had not just met some man on the street and taken him into the studio. He had made some sort of commitment. Long term.
And I thought that marriage would be just that…long term. That our beards would grow long together. That I would never ever tire of looking at you. Kissing you.
Then I remember that I am here in LA. You send me a picture of Washington Square. It’s all I need right now. A picture.
The whole house smells of beef in red wine, fresh herbs, fresh garlic.
I had lunch with Robby on Monday. We ate a lamb burger at Gjelina. I drank ginger and mint italian soda.
He has been having a wonderful time. Earning masses of cash, loving his man and roaming with his homies. Yes, I wrote that.
On Wednesday I met a friend for lunch, a lunch that didn’t end until 3am. He is 23, he lied about his age. He told me he was older. A masculine dilettante.
Have you heard of Red Medicine? It’s that restaurant, Jordan Kahn’s place…that everyone is talking about.
We ordered far too much. Each baffling plate arrived covered in flowers or Dadaist condiment.
We ate: DUNGENESS CRAB / passion fruit, brown butter, black garlic, Vietnamese crepe, hearts of palm $32
We ate: BEEF TARTARE / water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll, peanut $15
We ate: AMBERJACK / red seaweed, buttermilk, lotus root, tapioca, succulents $16
Then, after dinner, we lay in the back of his SUV by the beach and kissed each other until my face was raw, my heart was racing, my legs were trembling. I was so completely overwhelmed that I could not drive for ne’er a mile before I had to stop and beg a cigarette from a passer-by.
He is beautiful. He gnawed at my neck until I could not bear it any more.
So, that’s what love looks like in a warm climate. For a moment. Not long-term. Not to be taken seriously. Just a moment. I have trained myself not to yearn for more.
So, the daub will cook for four more hours until it is tender. We will eat it with home-made noodles.
Vanilla pods and brown sugar. All locally produced. The apple and brown sugar caramelized on the dish.
The twins return from their long weekend away. I am lusting for the mountains, for fresh faced farmers.
You know who you are.
My friend’s 13-year-old troubled child is here at the house.
To tell you the truth…I don’t find him very troubling. Why? Because I was just like him when I was his age.
Difficult, intransigent, argumentative, addict manque.
Though our home situations are very different I began feeling a deep regret for how I had treated my mother and brothers. Without doubt the genesis of my anger toward them had some basis.
Seeing him treat his parents so appallingly, confound them, fight them…distresses me and everyone who witnesses it. He demands money with menace, internet privileges and rides to see other equally troubled, weed smoking teens.
It has been a particularly hard week for my friends. Interrupting a drug deal he was making with a pair of 16 year olds in a car, a deal funded by money he had stolen from his mother, he attacked his Cambridge educated father and literally ripped the shirt off his back.
Until that moment his father had been his great ally and protector. Until he saw what the rest of us had seen for some time…that there was nothing his own child wouldn’t do to get what he wanted.
The violence toward his parents is shocking to witness but he tends to behave properly when I am around because, rightly, he is scared of me. I refuse to co-sign his bullshit. I am bigger and potentially twice as violent and, of course, he knows that I will not acquiesce.
He steals anything he can lay his hands on and lies about it.
The last time I was at the house he stole $20 from me. I just demanded it back and he handed it over. When caught he tends to walk into a weird cloud of denial. Glazed, fearful.
After he attacked his father the police came and cuffed him. They wanted to take him to juvenile hall but his parents balked at the last moment.
It is only a matter of time before he ends up in very serious trouble.
I was sent to boarding school so my parents could live a normal life. It suited me to be away from the house. It suited them to get on with their normal, family life.
The problem seems to be that this kid has no passion for anything other than money. He isn’t, as I was, sketching imaginary couture collections, writing plays or poring over houses I would one day build.
His stated aim: the acquisition of money. He will do anything he can to get hold of it. He doesn’t have anything particular he wants to spend it on. He just craves hard cash.
Ultimately he will leave home and make his own mistakes…in his own time, on his own dime…but for now he tortures his parents and sisters with tantrums, violence and vile words.
When things get really bad at the house his desperate mother calls me and I sleep over.
Calm is restored. Last night we made tea and dipped strawberries in chocolate.
I know, of course, how things will end up for him: jails, institutions and death.
It is the way of the addict. We are all similarly destined until we take those imperative steps toward sanity and abstinence.
This summer has not delivered the early morning, glittering sea views we are used to. It is gray and wet. The dew is so heavy that it drips like tropical rain off the plane trees.
By 10am the sun has burned off the marine layer but somehow never really recovers. The weather is totally messed up. The garden thrives although I worry about the cacti.
We lost three this year, rotting in the damp air.
I have huge and beautiful squash growing on the terrace.
Henry is dropping by today. He is taking me to the doctor. My foot is still very painful. Swollen. I can see that it gets better. Slowly, slowly. I take a stick with me into the garden. Ever since the coyote attacked the little dog he stays close to me.
There is a very destructive squirrel chomping on anything and everything but mostly he/she picks oranges and peels them very carefully.
The plums have all been harvested. The figs are ripening. There are so many this year.
Tomatoes and beans, lemons, limes and grapes.
Late last night the dog started howling at the moon. It’s impossible to get back to sleep.
Dawn. Crows cawing. Dawn chorus.
There is so much dew it looks and smells as there has been heavy rain. I spend an hour every morning watering whatever I can from the path at the top of the house. I enjoy this.
There are so many snails.
Had lunch in Hollywood yesterday with a writer. Actually, we didn’t eat lunch. I drank some iced tea. Met the man who owns Mama Shelter in Paris. I have known him for years but I just didn’t know that he owned that hotel. You know we stayed there don’t you? This time last year.
How can I spend so much time wishing away the past?
Long conversation with a man in Sonoma who makes chicken coops. They are expensive but look great.
Jennifer bought fresh garbanzo beans which seem like they might be easy to grow in my garden. The melons are growing. The black tomatoes are doing well. Something ate the pumpkin seedlings. The lemon trees, after the wet winter, are laden with fruit. There are figs and plums and ruby grapefruit.
There are roses blooming all over the property.
What else can I tell you? I write my novel as per suggestion. It gets better and better. Perhaps I get better? It started as one thing and already, with a little intelligent coaxing, is evolving into something quite different. It started with vengeful intentions. Now it is getting funny. It started with a view to kill. Now it embraces the will to live. These are not my ideas.
I would prefer my original plan.
I have just a few weeks to finish writing The Scarlett Empress. It is by far the most commercial thing I have ever written. It is helping me though. Helping me think in a different sort of way.
The more I write the other stuff…the less I want to write this. Yet, this spurs me into action.
Three days until the ‘NYC on Sunday.Adventure’. The Dane arrives from
Becoming a Pilgrim. You’ll enjoy reading about it. I have had to keep the plan a big secret. I don’t want anyone ruining it.
The twins are running around the house in their boxers.
Pains in chest and arm. Balls ache once again. Nasty cough.
The day passed slowly and uneventfully.
I watered the garden. “Why don’t you have an automated system for that?” I hear you say. Well, I do. But…a bit like our mad bad Prince of Wales I like watering the plants individually and chatting with each of them. The citrus trees especially respond to gentle coaxing.
There is something charming and rather annoying about the ‘we’ pathology of twins. We are with each other a little too much. Consequently, when we left for Lake Malibou, I wasn’t in the best of moods.
We all helped Jennifer with her Out of The Box Wednesday pack then Miles set off with the delivery.
Robby and I drove into Hollywood. I wanted to stop in at Fresh and Easy where I buy English staples. Tea, bacon, marmalade etc. I can’t do with out them. We, me and the Little Dog, sat in the ugly court-yard outside the supermarket drinking coffee waiting for Robby watching lithe men heading for 24 hour fitness.
A woman from Chicago, who had arrived in Hollywood two nights previously, looked down at the dog and said, “There’s a little person trapped in there.” She fed him chicken breast. “This has got to last me two days.” She told the Little Dog. She was plump, dyed black hair and red lips. She told me that she was here in Hollywood to pitch reality TV ideas to…God know who. She was going to pay to pitch her ‘concepts’.
I was overcome with pity for her. She told me a couple of ‘ideas’ she had thought of pitching.
It occurred to me that for forty years not one original thought had been formed in that sappy brain.
I went for a walk.
Hollywood is grimy. There is nothing of any beauty to look at…to be inspired by. I yearn for my garden.
Robby picked me up after an hour in the gym. We had planned on going to an art/film/glamour party in Beverly Hills but I was tired and irritable so we drove home.
Well, we drove back to Malibou Lake and I helped Jason cook dinner for the children. After dinner, as the children were going to bed, I sat at their Steinway and tried playing the piano. I had not played for thirty years. I was shocked by how clumsy my fingers were. No longer able to slide effortlessly over the keys. I began to sweat. Evidence of my old age. Evidence of my own mortality. It was so frustrating! My left hand refused to even practice the scales in unison with the right.
I lay in bed last night thinking too much. Waiting to be dead.
Not so fast Batman!
Next week I set off on my ‘great adventure’ culminating in the birthday hootenanny. There are people flying from all sorts of wonderful places to help me celebrate my 50th Birthday…before I am not. I am stunned that so many old friends even exist for me let alone want to jump on a plane and be with me. You know, this is what I should have done last year…but last year I was with him in the back parlor of Wheelers.
Last year there was no room for anyone else. WTF?
It was a wonderful day yesterday.
Had lunch with Jon in West Hollywood. Delicious chicken and polenta at Hedley’s. Great to see him. We hadn’t seen each other for weeks and had loads to catch up on. He is in very good spirits. Business is booming for purveyors of luxury furniture so he is doing very well.
Met Ryan F and his super sexy new girlfriend Kirsty Mitchell who was once Miss Scotland but is now a very bankable young actress. She worked with my old friend Billy MacKinnon in his and his brother’s film Small Faces.
Had dinner at The Tasting Kitchen in Venice with Anna. Wonderful food. I had pork…again with polenta and baked cherries. Dropped into Gjelina to congratulate owner for sticking to his guns and not let Gordon Ramsey and ‘Lady’ Victoria Beckham bully them into making menu substitutions.
Arrived home late and fell into bed exhausted. Woke at 5am and watered the garden. My current obsession.
I had no idea yesterday was Monday. That’s embarrassing isn’t it? I genuinely thought it was Sunday.
Robby and I kayaked for a mile or so with the Little Dog. It was beautiful. From the Piette’s Malibou Lake, up an unnamed tributary. Our navigational skills left a little to be desired but we had a great time. It was beautiful paddling under the weeping willow to the Paramount Ranch and back again.
The rest of the day I hung out with the twins. Trying to finish my novel. Jennifer’s mother kept trying to talk to me as I was writing.
Max came home from school. The previous day three squad cars came to see him after he smashed the stained glass window in their front door. When the police arrived he escaped on a boat across the lake. My kind of adolescent.
He took the boat, hitched a ride to the local CVS where he bought himself a sleeping bag thinking he could sleep rough. Sadly, for him, it began to rain so he called his parents and they came and scooped him up.
Rather exciting adventure for a 13-year-old boy? A bit distressing for the parents but I rather like watching the adventure he is having. It reminds me of my own. I KNOW that I shouldn’t encourage him. I really hope that he comes live with me in September.
Later the twins and I went to Trader Joes where mama bear bought his lil family food for the week. Everybody thinks that the boys are my sons. Funny.
A couple of pics from the w/end:
The garden. Watering the garden. Tending the garden. Seedlings. Deer at night. Snakes by day. Warm sun, a cool breeze blowing off the ocean. It is just all so beautiful and thrilling.
I take my afternoon nap. I write my blog. I walk by the ocean. Gabe is here. The tide is high. The Little Dog runs from the waves, darting in and out of the rocks. The surfers ride them high, crashing into the water.
News items that disturb me: The mutilated 13-year-old Syrian boy. The care workers in England who tortured their mentally ill charges. The other little boy who may win a fixed British talent contest. The corrupt and uncaring government.
Yet, despite these horrors I can still find peace. I am at one with who I am. Will this last? No it wont, but why bother worrying about what may or may not come next?
Spirituality means dealing with our intuition. The divine is looking kindly upon me?
I am here and now. Experiencing right now. No point in dwelling on the past or imagining the future. This very moment. Nothing mystical. Precise.
Why be threatened by the now? Jumping to the past or the future. The now is good.
I am no longer waiting to be dead.
Trust right now. It is very powerful. Interacting with the now. Everything I experience is unconditional.
Borrowing from the past and inviting the future. No, not today.
Perhaps this is why I want God to look kindly upon me?
This morning I fight with AT&T because they have over charged me. I take the twins and Gabe to breakfast at the Lumber Yard. I water the citrus trees. Yesterday I stayed at the house all day gardening.
Enough is all I have so I must trust that enough is all I need. My needs are met. Right NOW. Look around me and experience what for the past year has been so elusive. I live in a paradise. My own paradise. It is no use dwelling on future catastrophes when I love what is happening right now. It is no use hankering after what could have been. It is no use comparing what I have with what others own and despairing that I want even more.
I am a single man with far too much already.
PS My friend and backgammon foe Sam (Levinson) is dating Ellen Barkin. I celebrate their 31 years age difference.
My friend Alecia has had her baby.
After Stephen left yesterday afternoon for some appointment somewhere…I lay on the sofa and mulled over the days events. One thing was certain, The Penguin no longer rents space in my head.
I kept marveling at how I had once found him so intoxicating. I finally saw him as others saw him. When Charlie said, “He wasn’t like anyone I had met you with before…” I felt vaguely insulted. “The boys you usually introduce me to are beautiful.”
Yet, Charlie was right. My love for him made his fascinating. The pictures I took of him made him look like a model. The life I handed him. The strengths I imbued. When I took him to Paris all he brought with him was his mediocrity.
I realized that I had never seen him, in all the time we knew each other, with anyone other than my friends and family. To see him interact with his parents was a revelation. They looked at his iPad and laughed. The sham, It might have worked if his Mother didn’t look so incredibly sad. Amongst them The Penguin looked for all the world like the entitled brat who would think nothing of taking drugs to their house, using their kitchen as a porno web casting studio or telling them bare-faced lies.
Their ‘unconditional’ love created The Penguin. I had hinted before that this may have been the case but just seeing them together confirmed my worst fears.
I suddenly understood Jessie’s fury in a way that I had never understood it before.
“Well, it’s over. She came home, got me to confess a bit more truth–that i have had sex with men before–then after a lot of kicking, hitting and screaming, she kicked me out. I took the train to my parents’ house, where I told my mom everything (my dad is out of town which made it all a bit easier actually), and she held me and told me it will all work out. Jessie called her to make sure I’d gotten home, which gave me some hope that she might not hate me forever…but after she got home tonight it became clear that there is no going back. She accused me of ruining her life, of being a deceitful sociopath, of being a bad person who she wishes she never met. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.
Part of me feels like I wish I’d never met you–your were a catalyst of sorts and without that catalyst everything right now would probably be as it was. But I know that “as it was” was not as perfect as I wanted it to be, and beneath all the pain right now I know I did the right thing. Thank you for guiding me towards the truth,,,you are so incredibly strong…I can hear it in your voice, your words. I hope I can be as strong as you and I really want to thank you for being here for me. I cannot fucking believe this happened today. Love you a lot.”
The truth is: he would never have ‘come out’ if I had not been the crazy man I am. I had threatened to ‘un-pick’ his life and he knew that the truth had to be told. I forced him to tell her the truth.
His lies made me physically sick.
Whilst he was with Jessie I wrote:
You are making me unhappy. There is no fucking hope.
I refuse to be the other person in your life whilst you selfishly shit on other people.
It is not fair on any of us.
I refuse to be the levelheaded guy who just puts up with you. Then, when and if it suits you, you turn on and accuse of craziness.
I can’t do it.
Yes, today I felt fed up with you because I don’t trust you. Why should I?
Why should anyone?
What the hell did you expect from this? That I just have no feelings? That we just fuck? That you sit in your room and jerk off on camera and that was going to be enough for me?
Jake, PLEASE stop living a lie. Leave that poor woman. Be single for a while then find a man to love.
I think often about Jessie. How he treated her.
Let’s talk about who I became yesterday. I didn’t really like me yesterday. I didn’t like the goose-stepping, mad man who took obnoxiously loud telephone calls in the court waiting room. It seemed like I just had to be THAT GUY. It seems like it’s the only way I know how to protect myself.
I was the wrong size when I left the court. So it was that I had to get back to being the right size. Not too big, not too small.
Alex called. We had dinner at Angelica’s Kitchen. I ate steamed vegetables. We talked briefly about the day but I was done. Done talking about The Penguin.
We fell into bed and I kissed him. Everything felt so different. Fresh.
Just two men in bed, two men in bed without any expectations.
I am on Fire Island this weekend house hunting for the summer. Very excited.
Too busy to write 500 words.
Briefly, yesterday was spent with my yoga/park friend Alex. We walked…and walked.
Lunch at Northern Spy on 12th St between A and B. Appalling food. I will eat pretty much anything but the watercress and potato soup was so bitter I had to send it back. My friend’s risotto was bland and uninspiring. The grilled cheese was ok but I couldn’t get the bitter taste of rancid watercress out of my mouth.
We chipped before the desert and the entire fiasco still cost $70.
After lunch we walked via Soho past my old apartment on Varick St to the Chelsea piers and looked at the sweaty runners. Oh yes…we also popped into the Rem Koolhaas show by The New Museum on The Bowery. It was like an art school architecture demo. I suppose that’s what he wanted. I was underwhelmed. The theme was RESTORATION.
There was one photograph that really moved me. A table in the St Petersburg summer palace groaning with gilded paste figurines. Each one worth a fortune but each a nightmare for a conservator. What to do with so much stuff?
I shopped for granola. Watched TV. Still can’t write. Still unable to think about anything creative. Just enjoying the wind on my face. My feet ached from the long walk.
Met Donovan later that night and we hung out at Eastern Block with a bunch of moderately ok looking gays. I looked good again…so garnered more unexpected attention. Thank God for drunk boys with beer goggles.
It always helps to have a hugely attractive, similarly aged man with you…as bait.
Dan returned from LA. He looked exhausted.
Robby suggested that I call todays entry…well..you can see can’t you?
The twins are home and the house is full of twin energy and plans and smells. The washing machine is stuffed with their weekend laundry. Miles is falling in love with a young lady he met on his trip. It is so sweet to see him delicately negotiating these new and powerful feelings.
Robby is off to Hollywood for an audition. He looks great.
The weather is incredible and the hillsides are vibrant with spring flowers and tiny baby rabbits who hop dangerously out into the road. This is the first year that I have seen so many rabbits. Either the coyote are fattening up elsewhere or the rabbits have migrated from another part of the mountain.
I saw a dead bobcat in the road last week. They are such beautiful creatures. Even the dead animals in the road are beautiful.
Therapy this morning, listened to an ex homeless man tell his story. Very restorative. Humbling.
Collecting my thoughts for next weeks trip. There is not much to think about other than what to take to wear. Which, as you can imagine, is more of a headache than it should be. I have no idea what to expect, it’s just going to be great to be back in NYC.
Peace of mind. No longer the roiling mess I have endured for months.
Let’s not forget shall we that I was nominated for a BAFTA for my film AKA. However insane you might think me now…there was a time when I could get things done and to a certain extent I still can. I only mention this because some people would like to forget that it ever happened…rendering me and my life utterly useless.
So, I decided to fetch out all of my awards put them on my desk.
Last day of the vile tasting chinese herbal medicine yesterday. No more foul-smelling pee.
There seems to be a small window of creative opportunity that I can mine the first thing in the morning. Just after I have had my coffee. If I am lucky I can spin this into a day of writing. If I fail to act then I tend not to write a thing.
I bought a small publication at The New Museum called For Lonely Adults Only. A pictorial diary by Regis Trigano. It is very beautiful. Documenting this gay artists various hookups.
I feel sad.
Set adrift in an ocean of self-pity. FUCK!
I am often asked where one can buy my version of Dorian Gray. Well, we only really played it at festivals. When the cast becomes more famous (as they are doing) we may very well release it. It is proving nicely. One day it will be released.
I am in LA. At the house. Another huge rattle snake in the garden resting on the step. I hit it with spade but it slithered away. Thankfully the Little Dog didn’t see it. He may very well have chased it.
The twins are a joy. So sweet to me. The house was perfectly well-kept when I got home. The larder well stocked and the fridge full of things I would never eat but hey ho.
Sharon S came by and I made cauliflower cheese and pasta ripiena. The twins need to learn how to cook. I taught them how to make a roux then showed then how to turn that into a delicious cheese sauce. They don’t even know how to boil pasta! Miles makes the most inedible, lumpy, often burned scrambled egg.
I forced them to watch Rachel Maddow. They are self-proclaimed born again christian republicans. Once they understand what is really going on they are amazed at how the world really is.
One of them said, “Obama is trying to cut funding for education.” No, I grimaced, he’s not.
The other said, “Is there a Republican Rachel Maddow?” I balked.
I think that they were anti-abortion. Hmmm. Not for much longer. I feel like Socrates corrupting the youth of Greece. Let’s hope that I don’t end up like him. Oh why not?
This is great! Please listen to this lecture from the good people at TED.
Great weekend in Malibu. Loads going on.
Therapy Saturday. Lunch with filmy people. Another lunch with Gabe and Toby in Venice.
Met two very sweet Redondo boys in coffee shop.
Writer arrived at 1pm. Twins came home on Sunday as I am working with writer. Both of them had a great night in Hollywood. They got so drunk and sick and in trouble but separately. They lay down looking worse for wear.
The writer left. I vacuumed the house.
Miami Henry popped over. Made dinner for the four of us. Twins surprised that I made the salad dressing.
Henry left after dinner. Bed at midnight.
Nothing more to report. I have been writing like a crazy person.
I am thinking of checking into rehab. Seriously. I can’t go on like this.
Who reads my blog? Some people find it by chance. Others are looking. For those who are looking…I say welcome. Welcome. I don’t care if I only get 500 readers a day…they are the 500 readers who need to read my blog. Friends, family…and the rest of you…who come to sneer and blame.
Raining again in LA.
Spent time in Venice with Mel and one of the twins.
Popped into see Drew who looked even more handsome than when I first met him. Exquisitely dressed. He hugged me. Two people who were once entangled and now can be kind to each other.
I would rather be on my own than put up with half measures.
The young twins arrived last night. Spent a couple of hours making beds and sorting where they are going to stow their things.
Because of the terrible storm I could not get up to my house until late yesterday so as I was staying over at J & J’s house. I drove with Jason to Venice through the Santa Monica Mountains. The storm has caused huge amounts of damage. Thankfully CalTrans have dealt with the worst of the mess. Did I mention that during the storm we saw 5 Pepperdine boys surfing the steep lawn on their campus. Wetsuits in the rain. Looked like fun.
I dropped Jason off at work then arranged to meet Sinatra and Hilary at Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney. After an hour and some extraordinarily expensive Rwandan blend coffee and an ‘artisan made’ orange and cranberry muffin I picked Lily up from school in Malibu and drove her home.
The logistical nightmare that is having three kids in different schools all over LA.
Found myself alone with Max, we sat at home discussing rap music. He is 13.
My stomach ached all day. A mixture of anxiety from having JB at the forefront of my thoughts once again and exhaustion from staying up all night at the Sober Living facility.
This morning I woke early and made tea for us all and set about doing long overdue desk work. All three of us are tapping away quietly on our macs. Must go buy loo roll. These boys sure get through it.
I find myself in limbo once again.
However beautiful the twins are I am discombobulated. Absent. Sad.
Scroll down for the Patmos transcript.
Look at the view! It’s a warm morning where I am. The sky is pale pink, the sea is almost blue. The rain this winter has caused every Ceanothus to bloom. Almost blue.
Not like the one I planted in my Whitstable garden which bloomed purple, fleshy flowers.
The garden herein Malibu is now Fire Safe. They have cleared the brush and hoed the beds. The trees are almost fully in leaf. The tiny quail and their tinier babies search in the tilled soil for food. I don’t know what they eat.
Stephen, Kristian’s one time boy friend send me a collection of his writings that I have not had time to read yet. Kristian Digby. Where are you? I wish you were here. I wish you were alive.
I think that it may be Jean’s memorial today. I’m not going. It would be hypocritical. We were once friends. I want to remember what it was like to be his friend. Sit quietly with the memory.
Too many deaths recently. Too many unnecessary deaths. Each time they tell me that someone else is dead I have to look at my own fingers and imagine them bone and parchment.
I want to find you that page in my diary when we were on Patmos, Phil and I, and we looked into the charnel house and saw the desiccated remains of… people. Tangled together, wearing their simple peasant garments.
I couldn’t sleep.
Phil splashed cologne around our bedroom. It soothed me.
It’s a beautiful day today. Best I concentrate on that?
I felt the shame. Shame is like scraping meat off the bone.
I’m writing about one isolated man being saved by less isolated men. Was this past year such a waste? This was the year when obsession became my higher power. Now I have a chance to know God once again. Will I ever get home?
Here are the Patmos diary entries for August 1990.
I am with my darling Phillipa Heiman. We are staying in her mother’s beautiful summer house overlooking the Aegean.
We are lovers. We visit the charnel house.
Wednesday August 15th 1990 PATMOS
The masseur said that I should wear something loose. I opted for my frog boxers, Victoria Whitbread gave them to me, green frogs hopping all over my genitals. She poked and prodded and soothed, she twisted my arms and legs, her breasts pushed into my face, “I hope I’m not suffocating you.” She said.
Her fingers glanced over the end of my dick.
“Your lymphatic system is now working.” she declared as my stomach rumbled for more cold chicken. She told me that, like many people, I had been frightened as a child and had reacted with my right side. This reaction has begun a slow deterioration of the tissue in the areas seized and now they were completely ‘blocked’.
After a fag break she told me that I shouldn’t drink, that I should do Tai Chi and should have six more sessions costing a further 3000 drachma per session. Thank the lordy for new age medicine! The alternative society has got it made. I am rushing back to London to learn anything I can to lay a few letters after my name. D.P. Roy Alternative money-maker. A.M.M.
As a final booster she poked me with an electric prod. Very nice.
Philippa returned from a walk around the village, she had been to a church service which, from her description, sounded delightful. We ate what was to be my last unfettered meal. We stepped, after lunch, into the hot afternoon.
Through the alleys, to the monastery. My spirits were high. We faced the wind together, holding her breasts through her thin silk dress, letting her feel my stiffy on her thigh, she said that the monks would be shocked.
We found a fig tree and picked fresh figs, they tasted of nothing. We found a pear tree and the fruit tasted of nothing. We saw an English couple removing their shorts under a very unshadeful tree on top of a windy promontory. Like the middle of a motorway, next to the rubbish dump full of plastic – not rotting, away from Xora there were plastic bottles, scores of them, strewn over the brown grass.
The hot afternoon my spirits are still high. I’m making a lot of jokes at everybody’s expense – mostly Philippa’s. She’s enjoying it, her period has started so she’s happy again, woe betide me if I’d mentioned this as a contributing factor to the tears. The tears were so terrible to see. I am a broken man when I see my lover cry. I see my mother and grandmother and aunts Evelyn and Margaret in her tears and I am a broken man.
We walked on, she wanted to see the graveyard which you can see clearly from the window in the drawing-room. I am sitting opposite that window, all I have to do is to stand up and I can see the graveyard walls, a couple of white crosses, the blue iron gate and some white box out-houses.
We went the long way round, over prickling grass and clumps of brown dry plants and plastic bottles rolling around on the parched earth by the Meltemi which is a wind, a wind called the Meltemi.
We found the gate. Most of the graves were new, some had photographs of old people. One old man sitting on his chair outside the front door. He looked like a loved man. A candle burnt in a tiny marble and glass casket. An eternal flame.
The graves were made, in this concrete covered place, of tiny man holes. A ring pull on top. We looked inside an abandoned tomb. These were obviously used over and over we concluded. We thought that the bodies rested here for a bit, with the flame and the photographs and the plastic flowers and the crucifix. We concluded that they would be cremated and scattered over the Aegean or the terraced island.
Our spirits high, we looked into one of the empty tombs. Under the concrete. A hollow waiting for its fill. Maybe it would be Petula (our maid) with her twisted hair and apron. Her bare, dead legs under the stone. Petula, Petula compromised because we rearranged the cushions, the red, gold and orange ikat instead of pink delicate John Stefanidis print. We’ve made the home ours now Petula.
Old Petula can rearrange the cushions under here. Under the stone.
We made our way to another gate at the back of the graveyard. We balked at an old coffin laid beneath a tree, we saw that it was laminated maple, birdseye maple effect. A birdseye maple effect coffin to be transported from the village to the hole, there to be cremated and the little old man to be scattered into the Meltemi and over the sea. Not a bad end.
“Wait a minute,” Philippa says, “Let’s look through here.” I was on my way out, my spirits were high. I looked past the evergreen where she stood ahead of me. So beautiful! Her large smile and eyes sparkling out to me – all radiant and all mine. I don’t want her to go any further. I want to leave there and then, our spirits high, home to a plate of cold chicken and potatoes. Maybe our bed.
She turned into the other plot and I followed, ran ahead. Past a small, stone, white building, to a shack stacked high with coffins. Eww I said, how horrible, a shack full of coffins. I wanted to get out. I wanted to leave there and then.
“Look.” She said gaily, “Bones.”
I ran ahead to where she was pointing, I ran right up to what was undeniably a thigh bone sticking out of the ground.
“They’re human.” I said, my spirits no longer high, as high. Not hit rock bottom. Just a bone. We looked into a pit. An open hatch, like a cellar door straight into the ground. It was not just a bone, it was a whole man or woman with clothes on, maybe two men or two women or three, with their nylons still sticking to bits of dead flesh. With the sun on the white bone, the flesh torn away.
Fascinated, I looked into this death-bed, this corpse mine. Looked at the big bones, no sculls and it was occurring to us what the godforsaken truth was. There was no scattered ashes over the Aegean but this ossuary. We stepped back from the pit stuffed with bones and slippers and old nylons pulled over what was once a plump thigh. I retreated past the small white, stone building with steps that lead up to an open window.
“Look that room up there is full with these.”
I ran ahead, up the steps, my tee-shirt over my mouth. I didn’t even think about it, it was natural that I shouldn’t breathe the same air as the dead. I looked into my own hell. Through the open window into a huge room crammed with rubber shoes, cheap by any standard, the paper liners eaten by maggots. More arms and legs and ribs, all forked into this place.
Strewn into this terrible room.
I couldn’t leave it alone, I couldn’t leave it. I couldn’t pull down the tee-shirt over my face and run away. I couldn’t be sure that these weren’t donkeys or dogs somehow tangled up with jumble, that my eyes didn’t deceive me I needed to see a skull.
I stepped up higher so I could see past the mound of bones and clothes and shoes full of maggots. I looked past all this and into the face that confirmed exactly what we already knew, what I had to see and wish I had never seen. My spirits drained out of me, my anal sphincter winking in fear, my feet wanting to run as fast as they could from this Byzantine holocaust.
Phillipa, still smiling and flirting and dancing around. Her belly just about to empty its bloody dead contents into her knickers. The old man sitting by his front door, Petula the maid, her hair all snaked up around her head with her old, thin fingers. Forked into that room. This heaving room, where flies and rats can come and live off of the dead.
We walked out of the graveyard, past the blue, wrought iron gate and into the hot alleys and the afternoon sun. We trailed back home, my spirits drained away. My mind working on the image of death. We could hear the bells calling the faithful to their pews, to the holy water, to the Festival of the Virgin whilst the tangled remains of granddad, children, motorbike accident victims all hugged one another unwittingly in that terrible room.
Back at the house I fell asleep on Phillipa’s stomach. When I woke up I tried to make light of what we had seen. We couldn’t. My mind working on that image of death. We had a rather bright dinner with the French. I couldn’t eat much, the meat festered in my mouth.
I could see the grave candles burning from the night terrace, comets burning over our heads, my feet burning inside my silk slippers. The twins arrived, showed us photographs, we drove into Skala.
Phillipa went to church, I went to the bar so I might forget.
I drank. Sprayed with champagne. It was our table that drank the most booze, our friends who danced the hardest, our friends who fell into the sea drunk and all the time my mind is working out that image of death.
Into the eyes of death, a death’s-head, not facing me. Leading me into further horrors.
Olivier the sickly twin and I had a long talk about his girlfriend, what he felt for her. How he became her. I gave him a big hug because he seemed to need it. He stroked my face, he told me that he didn’t need to be ‘superficial’ with me. He told me that I was a friend. Sometimes I didn’t understand him because he used a language that only a twin can understand. A description of one life as two people. They are an extra-ordinary couple.
I went home to Phillipa. We drank tea and then they left.
I got into bed and great waves of fear passed through me, my mind working on that image so that the bones started moving. The dead sat waiting beside the front door, sat in the fridge disguised as roast chicken, the maggots danced inside the rubber slippers, the nylons gnawed by fat rats.
Phillipa felt me cold sweating there in bed, listened to my fitful cries and sprinkled perfume on the mat and offered me kind conversation and squeezed into my back. I fell, finally into an unfettered sleep.
PS We met the rich Greeks who are building their ‘luxury’ home next to the graveyard.
“Fantastic views.” said she.
Can you imagine who empties those graves? The man we see in the street? Maybe the tall, mad man we see in Vagelis – the restaurant with the garden. Can you imagine seeing the graves being exhumed? The contents pitchforked into that place? The man couldn’t sell the plot.
Phillipa returns yearly to Patmos but I never did. The beautiful house was sold. Phillipa and I split up on the way home from Greece and when we arrived in London Amoury Blow picked us up from the airport. I was all over the press. Again. Front page of the Evening Standard.
Well and truly stranded in Whitstable with the temperature plummeting below minus 5 degrees celsius.
The snow has frozen into crisp, wind-swept gullies, the car iced into its space in the car park, the dog makes its way cautiously into the biting air, pisses then runs back inside.
Bleak mid winter, frosty winds made moan…
Bought a shoulder of lamb yesterday. Cooked it slowly in the oven on a bed of rosemary and garlic. Slow roasting it to perfection. We sat around the table heartily carving the great piece of meat, eating it with cabbage and roast potatoes.
After the lamb we scoffed great hunks of Stollen and mugs of tea. This is Whitstable living and I love it.
I spent the day, as I mentioned yesterday, walking the dog..meeting old friends and keeping warm.
I had a slight HIM relapse. Entitled prick made his way back into my mind.
This is addiction at it’s very worst.
This is far better than the original…
I JUST REREAD THIS POST. IT IS SO BORING!
Without intensity and drama what becomes of me?
I woke up feeling really positive. I am really beating this one. Really.
A simple day. I am losing weight. I saw my reflection. It gives me great pleasure to see a flat tummy.
I decided to give Manhunt a try as I had paid for that account to snoop on u know who. It was good to get some interest from cute looking men but I felt as if I had come full circle since I was last living here. At least I am being myself on Manhunt rather than disguised by some fake profile just to hear the reassuring ping of interest.
Almost immediately two men recognized me from the show and two friends. It was fun.
Talked to realtor about what he wanted me to do to the house before we put it on the market this November. He said nothing. He said whoever bought it would probably tear it down.
I made jam. I made a jam. Strawberry jam. Tomorrow I am going to finish up after the gardeners. Today the little dog ran around after me in the garden. We drove to Venice and ate breakfast at Sauce. How quickly the staff get to know me. They remember after just two visits what I have and how I like it.
I like that. I like being taken seriously.
After a delayed, bumpy, listless, sanguine (huh), laconic train-ride to Marseille with little to eat other than the ham and cheese I bought at Monoprix we finally arrived on the Riviera at 2 in the morning.
Of course the taxi driver tried to charge us 20 Euros for a 6-euro trip but I refused point-blank to give in to his extortion.
Marseille is the oldest city in France.
The Hotel Tonic, accommodation that Eric very kindly found for us, was directly on the Vieux Port, which, unsurprisingly, was less romantic than I remembered it when we – Richard Green and I – visited here 20 years ago.
At 3am bawdy groups of handsome Arabs sit around the harbor, some wearing dejellaba, gesticulating and smoking.
We walked the dog then fell into two tiny beds and fell fast asleep.
The first part of the first day was incredibly frustrating.
Our plan to rent a car and drive to Nice was scuppered by Hertz et al who said they had no cars. They told us gravely that there were in fact no cars to hire in the entire region!
After the preceding days of London drama we fell into an immediate funk. Being forced to stay an extra night in Marseille, getting on each other’s nerves. When we finally returned to the Hotel Tonic I slumped into the elevator and told him that I wanted to go home.
Tired and demoralized after all that had happened in London, unable to rent a car, sleeping in a miserable room, not hearing from the people we were meant to be staying with in St Tropez..
As it turned out it was really the best thing that could have happened.
Circumstance has a rather wonderful way of shape shifting.
Firstly, the good people of the Hotel Tonic upgraded us from our tiny room to a huge room in the attic with a majestic bathroom.
Once there we set about trying to rent a car on-line and immediately did so. The car paid for, as was a train from Nice to Paris on Thursday, we could relax for the first time in 48 hours. I unpacked my suitcase, had a long shower and washed the little dog.
Once settled, we decided to walk up the steep hill to the Notre-Dame de la Garde, the church with the huge golden angel on it overlooking all Marseille.
On our way there we explored the tiny, cobbled streets, leaving the tourists at the port, having my hat blow off my head many times in the refreshing gusts of wind that grew stronger as we climbed the hill.
It occurred to me, once we got there, that my climbing Runyon and praying was obviously a very human spiritual solution. Climbing clears the mind, exhausts the body and once at the top one is somehow prepared to pray.
There was a beautiful boy leaving the church when we arrived, pulling his shirt off for the decent. He had fluffy black hair and perfect disk like nipples. We were both entranced. Walking on either side of him two older men complimenting his perfect body. There was something utterly erotic yet innocent about all three of them.
Dogs not allowed in the church I briefly sat on my own and prayed for serenity.
On the way down the hill we chanced upon and made a reservation at the Passarelle on the rue du Plan Fourmiguier, a small yet intriguing looking restaurant tucked behind the Radisson Hotel on the Vieux Port.
I knew immediately that the Passerelle would make us both very happy. With blue and white awnings over the decked al fresco tables and chairs it all looked reassuringly authentic. As if to prove my point a very chic woman was cooking in the kitchen and took our reservation.
We discovered, quite by chance, a famous bakery called Four des Navettes on the rue Sainte that has sold scented loaves and hard, rose smelling/tasting bread sticks since 1781. I bought the hard sticks of byzantine ecclesiastical ‘bread’ and a sugary ‘brioche’ that was, in fact, a huge doughnut. The bread sticks were disappointing…like eating deodorant.
After a well-deserved nap we dressed for dinner and walked the half-mile back to the Passerelle and ate the most delicious food in the most perfect circumstance. I started with the salad of jambon Palme, melon, mozzarella, rocket and basil sprinkled with toasted seeds. After my salad, a tagine of lamb and couscous (I hate the word garnished) but it was indeed garnished with a delicious stewed pear. He ate grilled Loupe and ratatouille.
Unable to choose between the four deserts we ordered three of them. Yogurt with honey, chocolate tart and fruit salad.
During the dinner there was a children’s fashion show, ten very sweet infants paraded, hand in hand in the most charming crocodile showing off very pretty, beautifully made dresses.
After eating every last mouthful we sat under the awning chatting for a very long time. Drinking coffee and smoking aromatic French cigarettes. The walk back to the hotel, past throngs of happy, drunk holidaymakers was a rather wonderful way to end what promised to be a rather miserable day.
We spent a very long time making love that night. It was perfect. Offering his ass to me. Cumming in his mouth.
The following morning we woke late, fled to the station collected our car; kangaroo hopped (stick shift) back to the Hotel Tonic where he manhandled the luggage into the tiny Ka and off we went.
Weaving our way East along the coast we discovered La Ciotat a small tourist town where we saw yet another beautiful man with a perfect smile and even more perfect body/nipples than the man on the steps leading from the church.
There were beaches and beaches covered with equally beautiful, tanned men…we gazed out of the car longingly. Gay men on vacation in the South of France looking at beautiful men. What could be more normal than that?
Interestingly and appropriately for us La Ciotat was the home to the first publicly projected movie by the Lumiere Brothers.
After a few hours of driving we settled into Sanary Sur Mer, a simple town that transformed at 7pm into a huge craft market and fete. In the Victorian bandstand a French rock band sang very spirited covers of amongst many, many others Maroon 5, The Band and Santana.
I upset the kebab shop man by buying kebab meat for the dog. The kebab man was a rude, nasty piece of work and I delighted in feeding the little dog his dinner even though the traveling companion ate half of it before the little thing had a chance.
We ate dinner in a small restaurant near the town center called (I can’t remember sorry). We started with the Moule Marinere then had the freshly caught grilled Tuna. He had the Paella, which had rabbit and chicken and huge prawns in it.
Two glasses of Rose for him only cost three euros. This made him very happy as he is incredibly careful about money.
Walked around the port back to our hotel and fell into a deep and immediate sleep.
I thought about Whitstable today. I miss you so much! The shallow lazy sea, the honey coloured shingle, buying espresso from Dave’s deli, walking the little dog on Duncan Downs. I wondered, like I do occasionally, if I could ever live there again.
Part of me wants to be there but most of me is perfectly as ease with where I am right now.
If I went back what would I be returning to?
It’s a great place to visit but maybe it’s never going to be my home. Maybe it never was.
Taking that bloody, stinky train to London. I never had the money for a ticket. Hiding in the toilet. One hour and fifteen minutes. Faverham, Sittingbourne, Rainham, Graveney, Bromley South. Victoria Station!
Walking to Mayfair. Sweet-scented drawing rooms, thick carpet and polished silver. Oh God. I know why I am thinking about this! I am dreading being left on my own on Tuesday evening when the man/boy leaves for Italy.
I want to travel too! Paris, Sydney, Whitstable or New York where do I go next? If I go what am I running away from? I’ll tell you what: a great, gaping God shaped hole.
18th Century boy/man was up until 2.30 last night pottering around, tidying, making a mother’s day card and finally fell into bed exhausted. We had dinner at Axe on Abbott Kinney. I ate the farmer’s plate with prosciutto. This morning we toured the Santa Monica Farmers Market and bought fresh almonds and pale pink hydrangea and delicate budded peonies.
He reminds me of Patrick Kinmonth, the same sensibilities and creativity. He is so tall and elegant, so curious about everything, which can all at once excite and tire. It is good to live again with someone on my arm that has such an extraordinary zest for life. He wants me to teach him how to sew. I would love to do that, pass on a few of the many skills I have that were meant for some unborn child in an imaginary family.
I wish that I hadn’t killed the snake but I was scared that it would bite the little dog then where would I be? John watched the video of me killing it and looked delighted at the very manliness of my snake murder. I should have been more proud but I wasn’t. I value life, even the life of a dangerous snake or the rat I killed the previous week.
Josh, my sober A gay friend and I toured Barney’s yesterday. Trying on expensive clothing neither of us would ever buy. Bumped into a friend of Charlies who was wearing cut off denim shorts, a sleeveless tee, a man bag and Jackie O sunglasses. What a fucking STATE. Also bumped into my friend Jody who has recently had two surrogate daughters-the $250,000 a pop kind. I asked, like I would my straight friends, if he is signing them up for pre-school. He spat back that he had no intention of sending them to pre-school as their nanny had them on the Einstein system for infant learning. He said that he wanted to control who came into their lives as he had no intention of letting them socialize with other kids as they might pick up bad habits. Now tell me if that doesn’t sound unhealthy? Child as project. Lot’s of my gay friends have chosen this route when they become parents. However, this is not peculiar to gay men, I know straight parents who do this too. In my opinion it can only lead to disappointment and resentment.
I thought about my mother and where she might be this overcast mother’s day. I wondered if my brothers had brought her flowers or sent her a card. I did not. Then I thought about Kristian’s mother who seems to loathe the idea of his friends getting together to celebrate his life and I wondered how she could be so bitter about this simple act of remembrance?
I pay scant regard to my creative life. My desire to create comes in huge waves that crash inconsequentially and leave me feeling tired and unfinished. Why can’t I seem to finish anything? My novel remains unfinished, my film too-as for everything else? I don’t know.
As his departure looms so do the morbid thoughts.
I find myself thinking about the NYC man and grieve for what was and what is lost, broken or as dead as the headless rattlesnake. I am all at once in celebration for what I have and desolation for what was and how that affected me. Man/Boy asked if I was on the rebound last night which I strenuously denied. But, of course, there is some truth to his accusation. John cautioned me yesterday about euphoric recall, the yearning for an acting out partner rather than the fully fledged, present young man who I now have.
I have no reason or right to have wanted more from NYC man. As I have said before I was an inconsequential blip in his life. It’s hard to own that. Yet, in a way, it has made me a stronger man for what I have now. I look at this new man and love him and care about him with new eyes. The eyes of a man who has loved and lost but is lucky to have loved at all.
As for my sobriety, I am sober! I have that to be grateful for. Gratitude is key!
Have to write for the Good Men Project. I am going to write about how to be a man when other men don’t recognize the sort of man you were born to be: A quest for validation.
I needed to stay in home alone tonight. I feel sad. Sad about Kristian, sad about my friends who died this year and sad that once again I am on my own: the vacuum left behind after a wonderful weekend with a great friend.
I have always had and certainly will continue to have a serious problem with goodbye. Saying goodbye permanently or even temporarily brings up huge feelings of loss, vulnerability and then the anger-the anger overwhelms me.
The genesis of these feelings: I was ripped from my mother’s breast and put up for adoption. These are primal fears of life and death. The most profoundly affecting goodbye after my mother’s abandonment was the death of my Darling Big Dog.
When my dog was violently killed the resulting anguish unleashed a torrent of sadness, a great wave of misery that may have resulted from not ever having said goodbye-ever to anyone I loved. I did not go to my grandfather’s funeral nor my grandmother’s. I have rigorously avoided any ritual goodbye and for that I am a lesser man.
Whenever I leave a party I just slip away as if saying goodbye will somehow humiliate me.
The same feelings overcome me now after the deaths of three friends in as many months. Yet the very act of writing about them lends me immediate solace.
The end of relationships causes me unrelenting heartache.
Stoically accepting the end of a relationship? No, not for me. Nearly all of the relationships I have had have ended badly. I never, it seems, get to write that scene in the movie of my life where two people say a dignified goodbye.
The end of my relationship with Joe ended thus: I knew that I was going to leave but it took me 2 years to end it and when I finally did I tried to do it with tenderness and compassion but he was so angry that he made my life miserable for a full year after I left him-ending up in court fighting over property.
In my mad head I forget that I have choices, the choice to remember that the past no longer runs the show, choices to say goodbye without the reenactment of traumatic and ruinous scenarios.
Today I waved goodbye to a new friend who has come to mean a great deal to me. Whether there is any romantic future between us is really not up to me-unless I behave in such a way that he would never want to see me again. This morning I began to get angry, angry that he was leaving but knew that it was for the best.
Even though I was only momentarily angry-until I could identify what was going on in my mad head and break the cycle of abandonment and despair by telling him that I would miss him, that I was feeling sad, that I had no mechanism for making those feelings go away…and by telling him the truth I was freed from behaviors that would alienate him from me forever.
I will say goodbye to Kristian this week, say my heartfelt adieu. His death has brought up all sorts of STUFF. I sorted out pictures of us today and will post them as soon as I can.
Whilst cooking lunch yesterday I bent over and herniated one of my disks. My spine gave out and I am now laying supine in a cloud of white linen and little dog waiting for the pain to subside. Symptoms include: Shooting electric spasms in my legs. Laboured breathing. My balls ache. It is Impossible to make the most simple move without the most excruciating pain. So, this is what getting old is all about? I went into a terrible shame spiral as I was forced to ask Cooper to help me perform the most simple task.
Instantaneously crippled by SHAME and spine failure.
Shame, Resentment and Fear. The three ugly sisters who regularly cripple this particular Cinderella.
It’s interesting how a deeper understanding of toxic shame has given me a greater insight into all things-especially writing fiction.
Watching my adaptation of Dorian Gray again last night with Cooper (I was in bed sweating from the flu and squirming in pain from my herniated disk) I realized how much more evolved it could have been.
My contemporary adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s only novel Dorian Gray is a deeply flawed movie.
If I had had the understanding that I now have..understood Dorian Gray’s shame and Lord Henry Wooten’s subtle manipulation of it. If I had comprehended why Dorian, in turn, heaps shame upon Basil Hallward.
We collectively determine what is shameful and who we think ought to feel shame . Shame is subjective.
Sanctimonious people, self-righteous people, religious people, are all very eager to heap shame on whomever takes their fancy.
My mother’s shame began as a young 16-year-old girl when she had me-out of wedlock. To make matters worse my father was a Persian! My mother was hustled out of dodge by my vitriolic Grandmother to a Catholic mother and baby home where she was forced everyday, by nuns, to perform menial acts of attrition and atone for her sins.
I was born into shame. I have perpetuated it at my leisure. I was oblivious to how shame had shaped my life until I started dealing with my sex issues.
For what should we legitimately feel shame? Should I feel shame for being gay? Should Natalie Octomum Suliman (Natalie is her birth name) feel shame for having all those babies? Judging by what is written on my comments page the answer would be a resounding YES.
There is a disturbing connection, for me, between Natalie Octomum and my mother who, 50 years ago, was shamed for the same thing..for giving birth. They were both called selfish, irresponsible, their actions cast as shameful and both punished by society.
My mother’s character would not have withstood a barrage of outraged press attention when I was born. She may have come off as surly or defensive when in fact she was just scared and confused. After refusing to give me up for adoption (for which she was branded selfish and irresponsible) she had the audacity to ‘sponge’ off of her parents and the state before she got a job.
The mother and baby homes run by nuns have all been closed down. We would be outraged, in the UK, if we heard that heavily pregnant young girls were scrubbing floors by way of Christian punishment. My Mother was considered by her shamed parents as both criminal and wrong-just like Natalie Suliman. However, times change and wounds heal.
The morally acerbic press keep Natalie in a holding pattern of shame. The babies are born! By punishing Natalie we merely punish every one of those children, creating a stinking cloud of toxic shame that will linger for the rest of their lives.
This is OUR part in the shame game, we perpetuate shame as and when we feel like it.
My mother’s actions in the early 1960’s are scarcely shame worthy in contemporary Great Britain. In fact most British people would not think Natalie Octomum should have shame heaped upon her for her actions. She is perceived as a macabre American sideshow where ‘freedom’ breeds freaks like Natalie and people like me who end up on Dr Drew’s Sex Rehab.
Natalie, in my eyes, is neither criminal, wrong, selfish, irresponsible or cruel. Unless her children are not being loved or cared for…and one assumes with so many prying eyes on Natalie Suliman an unwashed kitchen surface would be enough for child protection agencies to be summoned..then she should be allowed to get on with her very own brand of American ‘freedom’.
Hey, America, I don’t give a damn that Natalie accepts public handouts. Sounds like some of you want her to feel shame for accepting welfare. It stinks when I read that some of you don’t think that she is capable of rearing those children when really none of you have any evidence to the contrary. None of you know how capable she is of limitless love. None of you.
As my therapist friend Sean M is want to say: There’s No Shame in My Game.
Finally an artist who inspires: Allison Schulnik who is presently showing at the Mark Moore Gallery in Santa Monica‘s Bergamot Station. I am persuading all of my friends to buy her work. It is amazing. A real figurative painter who uses great gobs of paint with such dexterity and precision, so sculpturally and with such poise that I stood before the work salivating, hankering after Frank Auerbach, De Kooning and oddly Corot. I immediately called Kay and Amanda and insisted that they buy something whilst Allison’s work remains affordable.
The flu. Oh God. A week before the show airs and I get the most crippling kind of flu-shivers, giddiness, headache, severe pains all over my body, exhaustion. Hobbled like an old man, with Jennie, into Extra interview which is taped on Victory Blvd Glendale. Hindsight? Good idea?
Must remember not to do interview when ill. Really need to be in ones own body to do interview. I did my blustering, inchoate best. Internal monologue: Remember to say the word healthy rather than normal when referring to sexual activity. Make salient point about Elliot Spitzer and Larry Craig. Remember that there is no cure for addiction. Remember. Remember! Actually, I totally forget everything. The modern opera that plays constantly in my head overwhelmed me. Oh well, that’s what you get for being interviewed with a 103 degree temperature. Chicken soup?
Last night my tee shirt and sheets were drenched with sweat. I peeled them off and lay panting in the inky black Hollywood night. This morning I do feel a little bit better but the backs of my eyes ache and I am covered in the light mist of transpiration.
Thank God it is not the AIDS or Tudor Sweating Sickness. Tudor Sweating Sickness-a deliciously fruity disease that gripped the United Kingdom during the reign of Henry VII. Sweating Sickness was distinct from the Black Death. The Black Death, incidentally, the Jews were blamed for causing.
Must have been fun to have been Tudor.
“The disease began very suddenly with a sense of apprehension, followed by cold shivers, giddiness, headache and severe pains in the neck, shoulders and limbs, with great exhaustion. After the cold stage, which might last from half an hour to three hours, the hot and sweating stage followed. The characteristic sweat broke out suddenly without any obvious cause. Accompanying the sweat, or after that was poured out, was a sense of heat, headache, delirium, rapid pulse, and intense thirst.”
Gosh, maybe I have got Tudor Sweating Sickness. I love that the disease begins with a ‘sense of apprehension’.
Yesterday evening Justin and Eric came to visit. As ill as I was I still managed to stumble out of bed and cook the most delicious pork loin. I baked it in the oven with fresh thyme and Dijon mustard. I roasted potato and turnip and boiled some peas. Wholesome food will help anybody overcome the misery of any illness.
Feeling at best a little vulnerable and at worse castrated I will not now launch into my practiced tirade against those of you who don’t know the ingredients of pasta or how to make jam or why a pastry board in a Victorian kitchen is made of marble.
I took a tour of the old Governor’s Mansion. Our guide asked if anyone could think why the table had a marble top. There were a dozen or so women in the group, each of an age to have cooked unnumbered meals, but not one of them could think of a single use for a slab or marble in the kitchen. It occurred to me that we had finally evolved a society in which knowledge of a pastry marble could be construed as “elitist,” and as I left the Governor’s Mansion I felt very like the heroine of Mary McCarthy‘s Birds of America, the one who located America’s moral decline in the disappearance of the first course.
Why oh why are people so lazy about making food properly? Buying ingredients, preparing and serving. I love cooking. Taking care. Using linen napkins. Why should these delightful experiences be abandoned or exchanged for fast food? Eating on the go? The TV? Yes it’s true-I don’t have a TV. Don’t know what Extra is. Never seen it. Didn’t know who Drew was. Never saw Celebrity Rehab. I was busy making cassoulet and pressing my huge Edwardian tablecloth.
I am going to get dressed and walk the dog. It is his birthday tomorrow.
78 dogs on Runyon Canyon.
The transformers on Outpost exploded yesterday causing the fourth power cut of the summer. Thankfully I was not here for any of the others. John and I drove to Ralph’s and bought ice to keep the fridge from getting too hot. I bought three chickens for dinner-they were half price. I also bought melon and strawberries. In the line at the check out the young couple ahead of me had 20 boxes of microwavable hot dogs and a carton of diet beverage. He looked into my cart and said, “This guy eats healthier than us.” I enquired if they were having a party. The petite, pretty blond girl told me that this was their diet, franks and diet drink. “I don’t cook.” she said, “I’m frightened of raw meat.” Her gorgeous boy friend winked at me.
Alexa, Devon and Sabrina invited me to join them on a trip to Little India which is in Artesia some 40 mins from Hollywood along the freeway. The power out meant that the fans did not work so they lured me with a promise of air conditioning in the car. When we got to Little India it was just as you might imagine several strip malls selling sari’s, jewellery and indian food. We had a blast. I bought odd-looking raisins and nut meg and almonds. Being in Little India reminded me of the UK. Tea and digestive biscuits and Wheatabix. The smell of petuli oil pervading the hot streets. We ate lunch in a small restaurant and ordered Indian food that I had never seen in England. We took our chances and before long delicious things arrived in compartmentalized styrofoam trays. The Indians were watching me eat mine with some amusement-it turned out I was dipping my savoury main course into my desert. I suppose it was like watching someone put ice cream on their hamburger.
We all fell asleep, open-mouthed on the way home.
When I got home I stuffed lemons into the chickens and poured curry paste onto the skin and put bay leaves and garlic under the birds and roasted them for two hours at a very high temp. I boiled potatoes and then roasted them with okra and tamarind sauce. Thankfully I also soaked and prepared some barlotti beans which was just as well as Julia’s husband is a vegetarian.
8 people for dinner. Delicious. Julia Woolf who I have known for thirty years. Who would have thought it? If somebody had told me that the coolest chic in Whitstable would be at my table in LA when I was teenager I would have scoffed. Julia’s husband is very funny and dry. Josh and Sara are always great company. I love the way Josh knows film.
After they all left the internet yielded somebody for me to cuddle. Made it perfectly clear that I did not want sex. We walked together up the Canyon counting dogs and then he left.
38 dogs on Runyon Canyon today Sept 3rd 2006. For some odd reason these blogs are out of sequence.
The owners thankfully too tired to make small talk with their dogs. Yesterday, I shopped on Robertson but could not find what I was looking for. Lunch at The News Room with Dean West. The food was bland and expensive. I ordered a fancy fruit drink-wheat grass, pineapple and mint which had no taste what so ever. When I told the waiter it had no taste, that it tasted like water-he asked if he could remedy the situation by adding more ice. “Are you kidding?” I asked. He went onto explain that the ice would make the drink thicker therefore giving it more taste. I asked him to get me an orange juice.
I mopped the kitchen floor with bleach.
Met Sharon S at the Arclight. We saw Oliver Stone‘s new film about 9/11 which was, at times, very moving but I was over come with the feeling that it had been made too soon after the event. I mean, that’s why the US are still in Iraq isn’t it? Avenging the deaths of 9/11?
The film works best in the confined space underground developing the relationship between the two trapped men. I constantly had to remind myself that this was a ‘true’ story-it was so shocking. Sadly, above ground, Stone never really captured the horror and confusion of that day. As a film maker he needed to be less reverential and more grandiose/dramatic and only time passing could or would have allowed that to happen. It was apparent from this film that Stone finds directing women almost impossible, consequently the wives of the trapped men are woefully undignified. The only female performance of any note was Maggie Gyllenhall. Maria Bello‘s bright blue, over sized, contact lenses were very distracting. The flailing women erred, again and again, toward the dismally sentimental.
Nick Cage was physically suited to the role but he is so prone to under playing that I wondered if his inertia would finally get the better of him. Strangely, as I experienced it, the film felt like a ‘white’ film which was odd because one of the guys trapped under the concrete was latino-his family did not really get a sniff at the action-was the latino woman with Gyllenhall the maid or the guys mother? I found out subsequently that the hero who found those guys under the rubble was not a clean-cut white guy but a black man. A BLACK man found those men and WHITE film makers edited that out of the story. Stone is usually an oppinionated, egocentric film maker but ultimately this film, due to the enormous reverence to its subject, lacked a strong point of view and an unusual absence of ego became its downfall.
9/11 remains a ghastly pre amble to what Will Self calls the ’21st century commodity wars’. I would very much like to read the book that the film was based on. I cried when the film ended but I stayed angry long after we left the arclight, angry that today more innocent people would be buried under concrete by the US in Iraq. Nobody seems to have learned anything.
Saw JA in the line for another movie. She was wearing dark glasses. It is the first time that I have seen her since the cancer diagnosis. I suddenly felt consumed with anger that her stupid consultant had got the diagnosis so very wrong. It is such a terrible waste. Letter from DP yesterday expressing his concern for JA. We have all agreed to stand shoulder to shoulder should the time come.
After the film Sharon and I ate dinner at the Hungry Cat under that new apartment building on Sunset and Vine where I first lived when I arrived in LA. The bill came to $111. The food was decent enough-a bit complicated.
We talked about our sexual obsessions-after a life of sex how difficult it is to reorientate oneself toward a relationship. Sharon has huge tits and I kept on thinking about them during dinner. She told me that her next door neighbour is a very fit looking young girl who makes wrestling videos in her back yard. Sharon calls her Canyon Barbie. I tried to explain to her how PH makes me feel-like I am a MAN when I am with her. Filling out my own body.
Sharon has never met me without a beard so was delighted that I had dimples. I love intelligent, strong women. You know, it was Sharon who helped me cut the front of Dorian Gray providing solutions so that the beginning of the film sprints where it previously limped. We wandered to the parking lot arm in arm and then she dropped me at home in her black Porsche.
Dog Piss Canyon
“I’m frightened by the devil but I’m drawn to those who ain’t afraid..”
I passed 73 dogs on my walk on Runyon Canyon today. They call it dog piss canyon. I don’t think it smells at all. The dogs are all quite good-natured although I had a fear that if one of them did attack me it would be my fault because I was wearing black socks or had a beard. “He was wearing black socks-my dog hate men with black socks.” Most owners walk silently with their dogs but others keep a ghastly, high-pitched baby talk monologue going with their dogs, “Daddy wont be happy about THAT when we get home.” “Keep up with your brother.” Obviously the dogs are not related, one is a Yorkie and the other is a large black mutt. The illusion of family pervades the canyon, all these lonely people with dog brothers/sisters to feed and focus on. “Mummy said NO!”
Last night, after my 7.30-9.00pm AA meeting we ate dinner at Swingers on Beverly. The conversation was dominated by the rumour that Bush intends to use ‘little’ nuclear war-heads on Iran. I was dumbfounded by just how jocular the discussion was. Earlier, before the meeting started, a small Jewish guy was telling his friends loudly how ashamed he was of American foreign policy. Bush’s speech yesterday to a bunch of guys in fancy dress (ex-forces I think) was the usual war mongering pre-election bullshit. I keep on thinking about Michael Moore’s Oscar speech when he declared that we live in ‘lying times..’ How will we ever sweep away this bunch of liars, thieves and fools? We are the first generation of human beings who can not just pack our bags and find land to settle with like-minded people. We have no escape.
Apparently my towels are in Daniel’s room. He did not flush the toilet AGAIN yesterday. I feel too embarrassed to say anything. Shall I leave a note on the bathroom wall? I have not actually SEEN the towels yet but at least he has claimed responsibility and will buy new ones if they are vanished. I scrubbed the tea towel that was stained whilst I was gone. This is the third time that I have scrubbed it-it seems to be responding.
Joni Mitchell used to own the apartment block where I live in Hollywood. It is the most adorable pink building built-in the early 1930s. I have a huge sitting room, a smaller, well-proportioned dining room and the original kitchen and stove. There are two reasonably sized bedrooms and a bathroom off of a long dark corridor. Pamela (queen of the groupies) DesBarres lived here in this apartment. There is a photograph of Sid Vicious leaning against my fire-place.
I have decorated for comfort and relaxation. I have some of my photograph collection on the walls. Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth, Larry Clark, Tracy Emin, Larry Sultan and Gillian Wearing. It is a lovely little group. I also have the dregs of the Holly Soloman estate sale, above my desk is a wonderful painting called ‘A Peaceable Kingdom’ by Jimmy Kellough, which is a piece of tat really but I love it. How lucky I am to live in two such perfect places? Whitstable and Hollywood.
At 12 I went to my lunch-time AA meeting but it was a bad mistake-such a bunch of self obsessed relapsers. I had mass murder thoughts during the meeting which I have not had since I was last there-so in the words of Hunter Philip I shall ‘go where the love is’.
I had lunch with my celebrity friend who I can’t mention-maybe next time-at the Chateau Marmont. We were offered the table behind the hedge where they put all of the celebrities but we declined favouring the full spotlight. Since I have been gone they have put air conditioning into the lobby of the Chateau. Not as bad as I thought that it was going to be. The staff was having a serious meeting in the dining room. I waved but they all looked like they were being fired. We then went to see a cut of his new film that was, in a word, dreadful. Two words-dreadful and appalling. I could only sit through 30 mins of it without squirming off of my seat. The worst thing is he has invested $180,000 in it WITHOUT having seen any of the footage. I could have slapped him but I am TRYING not being so judgemental and he is a really great friend.
The oddest thing has happened. I woke up at 7.30 which is when I normally get up-I seemed to have totally got away without having any jet lag.
Woke at 4.30am. Still dark outside. Answered e-mails. Still cannot find missing towels. Sharon only used the white ones. Apparently everyone knows that Sharon cried when she told me that the laundry had lost my large white towel.
Spoke to JA yesterday who confirmed that she has cancer. They misdiagnosed the lump she had in her leg-it was the spreading kind of cancer and not the other sort that stays put. She sounded brave but angry that the mistake had been made and that Blue Cross is not honouring their insurance agreement.
I went for a long walk on Runyon Canyon as soon as the sun came up and looked over the city. I felt like Warren Beatty in the film Shampoo when he looks over LA sadly realising that his life is in tatters. Yet, it was not my life that was in tatters-it was my friends-a friend who had been there for me for over 15 years.
Last night I had dinner at the 101 with Dom and John R. We ate the fried chicken-Thursday special. It was delicious. I wish I had it to eat for breakfast. I am STARVING. The fridge is looking pretty bare. I have not had time to restock it. There are usually stacks of celebrities at the 101 but there were none to be seen last night. They had better things to do than eat the Thursday special fried chicken.
Dom and I have a private joke about Dakota Fanning being snatched by coyote from the terrace at the Chateau Marmont. Nobody else finds it very funny. If ever we see a small child or dog at the Chateau we ask if we can have Dakotas autograph. I was in Barney’s once with Dom eating kippers-they stank so much that our part of the restaurant cleared out. Anyway, there was a child there who looked like Dakota Fanning and I asked for her autograph and her mother looked piteously at me and told me that this was not Dakota Fanning. That is how sad our private joke is.
I tidied my desk today and sorted out the draw and threw out old receipts. I think that I have a shoe addiction. I buy so many pairs of shoes. If JA died it would leave a vast hole in my life. I think that she is going to die. It is the spreading kind of cancer and not the kind that stays put.
I felt a slight tremor yesterday. Watched the fan tremble. Thought about my bed, which is a four-poster and could save me if the big shake down happens at night. I was sitting quietly looking around at my new cushion arrangement. The blue ones on the white armchairs. The pink and orange ones on the sofa. The new paisley cushions on the floor with the mauve shot silk floor cushion. Where are my fucking towels?
Ian Drew called to get a quote he was writing about straight actors coming out in Hollywood for US weekly in the wake of the kiss between Travolta and that boy on the internet. The smoking gun. Finally, The secret is out. So what? Who cares? Who did not know that Travolta was gay? Will we believe him less when he holds up his sub machine gun and takes down a nation? Who keeps the gay boys in the closet? Other gays. They are vicious. Other gays keep gay actors from telling the truth about who they are. The velvet mafia must be reeling this morning.
I feel strangely happy and content. The walk did me some good. I should really go and buy my bike, which I did not do yesterday. I am secretly waiting for Dom to take me to the bike shop on Saturday and help me choose it. Must not lose momentum. Tuesday I start work on Valentine. Found old draft of script that reads well. All problems are structural. Must call Lisa B the casting woman and start talking. Perhaps my towels are hidden in Daniels room?
back in the la
Back in LA. The apartment was very clean and tidy. However, some of my towels have vanished and one of my beautiful French tea towels was used for heavy duty cleaning and I spent ages trying to revive it. It looks like with a few more hot washes it might regain consciousness.
I woke up far too early and set about plumping cushions. My beard has a huge hole in it from my nervously pulling at it at the airport. So, this morning I went to Vine and Sunset and my Puerto Rican hairdresser who shaved my entire head. I have had a beard for so long now I really did not recognise myself. I look like my grand mother when I am concentrating. Not very hot.
Courtney Love was on my plane from London. She looked pale but she always does. Sitting next to celebrities on a long haul flight is like going on a date. You get to see them so clearly. CL is on the wagon so she behaved impeccably but you could tell that the air stewardesses were waiting for trouble. A ‘difficult’ person is often made worse by the expectations of others. Everybody loves a good Naomi Campbell story and the mob loves to blame her for her antics but it is so often the goading behaviour of others and the nasty atmosphere created by the crowd that can make a celebrity attack-or anyone for that matter with a bad rep. Boxers are forever being offered to fight by complete strangers.
I know that I-to a lesser degree-can sense when people have a bad opinion of me or expect me to be the person they have heard I am. It is so hard, in those instances, to take contrary action. All too often I become EXACTLY who they want me to be and then all of their preconceptions are ratified. The contrary action is to ignore the baiting, the sly comment, the sneery look or the comment behind the hand. Of course, if one says anything about THEIR behaviour one is accused of paranoia. CL behaved impeccably. At the carousel where we waited for our luggage she dragged her own very heavy cream leather luggage onto a trolley and I felt for her, I really did. This much maligned woman whose celebrity relies, in part, on her earlier bad behaviour is finding it very easy to change her insides but the others will not let her change the outsides.
The last time I flew to LA I was sitting near John Major-though what he was doing coming to California beats me. Does he have celeb friends in the hills? Does he surf? Anyway, he was there reading the newspapers in the same row as me. I had previously seen Brokeback Mountain with friends at The Grove in LA and afterwards I had battled to keep from crying. I decided, rather stupidly, to watch it again. Heath is so mesmerizing. As the credits rolled I felt like crying so made my way to the tiny loo and cried. I was-making a terrible noise, big fat tears rolling down my cheeks and onto my chin. Anyway, when I had finished sobbing I opened the door only to find special branch-the UK equivalent of FBI-who were traveling with John Major outside the loo door. “Are you alright, sir” one asked and I said, bursting into tears again, “Brokeback Mountain.” and slammed the door. After a good half hour I went back to my seat and John Major looked very kindly at me and asked in a stage whisper if I was OK. “Brokeback Mountain.” I said and the ex-prime minster of Great Britain and all of it’s Dominions frowned and nodded understandingly.
I took all my shirts to the lovely Russian lady who presses them at the environmentally correct launderette. I could go to the local laundry but the walk does me good. I don’t think the one at the end of the street gives a fuck about the environment. This week I am going to buy a scooter. A Vespa. I am very, very excited.
I might hire a car this weekend and drive to San Francisco. I like it there a great deal and my friend Randy lives there. Or, I might go to Mexico city with Eugenio and the others but that might be a bit bonkers. JT asked me rather grandly (he is a few days under 90 days sober) what I was doing with those people doing drugs. He cannot fathom why I get a kick out of hanging occasionally with those guys. What he forgets is I found him at that house and now he is nearly 90 days. He forgets that I am doing out reach work-so to speak. People are genuinely amazed that I can stay up all night with them without doing drugs or drinking. Nobody else I know wants to do it-we lead by EXAMPLE.
I start Valentine on Tuesday with the new writer and it is not a day too late. The secret project is coming along very well. Dorian has ground to a halt.
My life as a film maker.
SS in Berlin thinks that I have a changed personality when I get here. I am going to make a concerted effort to be kinder this time. More accommodating. Now I don’t have a beard to hide behind-I need to be a great deal nicer. Maybe my beard made me aggressive in LA-or just the place. Hot, sweaty. Disparate.
Will add more later about this LA thing. Already have breakfast meetings scheduled for two weeks after labor day.
It is a blustery, bright late August day by the sea. Today I woke at 6.30 and started the packing process. I am taking the cushions I bought at Ralph Lauren and my red shoes from Asprey. I have packed millions of books as I miss them terribly when I am in LA. I am a bit worried about the weight of my bags but perhaps they will not notice at the check in. I dread the airport. Frisked by rude, aggressive men. The police with the guns. The stewardesses who behave like Gestapo. Horrible. I am leaving tomorrow but am staying with Phil and Moffy in Worlds End tonight. Phil is going to paint my portrait. I think that we may rent a house together in LA next year. I know exactly which one I want-the one in Hermits Glen. I love that house off Wonderland Avenue. How do I feel about returning to LA? Well, I have to work with a writer and whip My Funny Valentine into shape for the casting process. I think that it will be very funny by the time I finish it. I have to finish Dorian. I have to start my secret adaptation. Lots of real stuff to do when I get back.
So. This morning I walked up Whitstable High Street eating a marzipan candy bar holding a glass dish I borrowed from Delia at Wheelers. When ever I leave Whitstable I look at everything in the town as if I may never see it again. I look at the houses and the shops and I bumped into so many people I knew. I looked in on Billy Childish (Tracy Emin’s ex b/f) to see if he was there in his studio-he wasn’t. I saw Veronica with her grandson who looks like a very young Richard Green. His eyes are wide over his nose just like Richard. They called Richard Green FROG at school because his eyes were so far from each other on his face. They called me Bleached Nigger at school. That was because I had very long, afro hair like my mother.
There are MILLIONS of lesbians in Whitstable. I think that there must be a Tipping the Velvet convention on at the lesbian beach huts on West Beach. I call it the lesbian shanty-town. During the summer hundreds of lesbians live in the beach huts and cook tofu on calor gas stoves and show off their hairy arm pits. They have wild children with unbrushed hair. So many lesbians live here. I sold my last house to a pair of very rich lesbians. They were not very nice and accused me of killing their cat. They were always drunk. They moved out and told everyone it was because I had made their life so uncomfortable-it fact it was the other way around. Joe and I had lesbian neighbours on Fire Island. They looked like men. The men looking lesbians have an attitude I find quite difficult. I always thought that a gay couple and a lesbian couple might get on but in fact the lesbians we lived next door to in The Pines had the same attitude toward us as a homophobic male. They can be quite sneery. I had a lesbian friend who used to visit me in prison but stopped because she became a lesbian separatist and could no longer have anything to do with men-she even stopped her milk being delivered because he was a milk MAN.
I stopped in at the Deli for a coffee and sat outside on Harbour Street and ate a lemon tart. How do I feel about not being here? How does it make me feel? How is it to be back in LA? I like my little flat. I like the smell of the Jasmin and the garden and the small collection of art I have there. But it is September here and that is my favourite month. I am only in LA for a month then I go to Sydney to write. There is no anchor. Phil could be an anchor. She is so wonderful. Important woman. She has no agenda and has always let me be the man I want to be rather than the man they think I am.
I finished my coffee and made my way home. I should have taken my bike then I might have I would have taken a longer route home and stopped in on Lottie who was like a mother to me when I was a boy. She has MS and I think that she might die very soon. I did not go to say good-bye because I don’t like goodbyes.
The goodbye party I threw yesterday was great fun. Phil and Clare and Carol and Jennifer and Anna and Mikyla and Easterly Jason and Tino and Rob and 5 children all came from London to say goodbye and I made a huge cassoulet and crab cakes and tiny prawn tarts with béchamel sauce. Then we ate strawberries, meringue and cream-Eton Mess. It was obvious to everyone just how important Phil is to me and we spent all day being very close. The women talked about Clare being outrageously dumped at the altar last month by her policeman boyfriend from his greek stag do. The girls who have columns on the Sun and Mirror were eager to pillory him for her but she declined their offer. We also talked about my ex friend Susanna A who we believed might have a penis. We were being very rude about her. I told everyone that when we were on holiday in France last year I hade chanced upon her in the bathroom washing it but it had retracted into her vagina like a tentacle. That is the penis she fucks her friends and relatives with.
It was so wonderful having everybody there to say goodbye to me. I loved holding the baby which I did all afternoon and I gave her-rather grandly-a Jeff Koons print I had bought ages ago in NY. Every baby should have a Jeff Koons. They are such a great bunch of friends. Good friends-kind friends. I have been through the mill with plastic friends of late-the sort of friends I have in LA on the whole are work friends and the friends I have here I have not valued. Recently I made up my mind to open my heart to them. Open up my warmer side rather than being so austere. It really works. That new openness may be all about 9 years of sobriety.
After lunch and a walk we watched Welcome to the Dollhouse and then everybody left when night fell, after the glorious sunset. I was in bed by 10.30. The children had woken me at 4.30 that morning. They had been camping in the garden and the rain had woken them up so they decided to cause havoc. Children can be unwittingly destructive-the loo had to be repaired and the back door handle. Everything needs to have the tiny, black finger prints washed. Thank God they were not criminals. Thank God my cleaner is coming tomorrow.
When I get back to LA I am looking forward to buying my Vespa and cruising the streets of west Hollywood. When I get back to LA I am looking forward to my Saturday mornings with Dom. When I get back to LA I am looking forward to the sun on my back and Runyon Canyon and the spectacular views over..LA.
Threat Level Reduced?
The anti Muslim frenzy that the governments of the US and UK have been working tirelessly toward seems to be complete. I am at lunch in Vauxhall London with columnists from the Sun and the Daily Mirror-two highly influential British newspapers. There is also a political editor from The Times. There is a storm raging outside the house (thunder and lightning) and one inside (fire and brimstone) over the chocolate tart and chicken legs. Suddenly in my secular country people are diving along religious lines. The truth is being rewritten, I am told that the Muslim guys who were shot and arrested in Forest Gate are child pornographers/drug dealers/ black marketers. Suddenly the blacks are ‘just like us’ and the Muslims need to be ‘taught a lesson’. Now it is the Muslims who are stealing our tax pounds by claiming social benefits-even though I thought that last year it was the Muslims who had higher achievement levels in schools and ran small businesses with aplomb. Last year it was black people and asylum seekers who lived off of our white generosity-now it is the Muslims. How the fuck did intelligent people like the guys I was with yesterday suddenly become so blinkered-so incredibly malleable?
OK so, the innocent Brazilian guy gets shot in the head by cops eleven times at close range in a crowded subway. The Forrest Gate guys get shot and arrested and later released even though the ‘intelligence’ that had been collected over several months proved without doubt that these guys were manufacturing chemical weapons. Now we get this-the arrests of the men who were supposedly going to blow up planes with liquid bombs. Did the intelligence guys get it right this time or were they manufacturing moon shine? Perhaps they got hold of the mobile Weapons of Mass Destruction units that Saddam supposedly had? In fact those people arrested last week are slowly being released. Did you know that? But, in the mean time, chaos reigns over us. Hand luggage banned. Scary men with sub machine guns in the airports. What are they going to do with all those guns? Who are they meant to be scaring? Certainly not terrorists or insurgents. They are scaring us.
I am more scared by the British police than a Muslim with a backpack. However, I refuse to be intimidated by the anti-Muslims. I suddenly understand what happened to people’s minds in pre war Germany-how people were manipulated to hate the Jews. It is happening before my very eyes! At some base level we are all tribal beings-thankfully we here in the UK do not know which tribe we truly belong, we kinda get along with each other. WE always have. Yet somehow we all realised at the same time that the muslims were our enemies. Suddenly we are outraged that we do not want the muslims to steal our way of life-to take our social benefits and if they do they should be fucking ‘grateful’. “Because the way I see it.” She spluttered over her paella, -“WE feed them and they have the audacity to hate us.” Correct me if I am wrong, I replied, I thought that most of them were very well paid. I thought that they were angry because people were hating them for no good reason. Killing their fellow muslims abroad. “Are you with us or against us?” That’s what George W said after 9/11. Some people in this country are taking this question very seriously.
Even if it were true that the Muslims were taking our generous social benefits can we really expect to buy the loyalty of these people? Does $30 a week buy the loyalty of an asylum seeker? The friends I ate lunch with yesterday were sure that these parasitic Muslims were out to get us even though we were so god damned generous. They refused to make a connection between our behaviour toward their fellow Muslims abroad and their anger against us here. My friends are under the impression that we were all living in harmony before this happened. They refused to believe that the strengthening of a BNP (right-wing) party in the hearts of the Muslim communities was frightening to those people. Anyway, I thought that we had a wonderful low unemployment rate. I thought that we were striving collectively to beat race hate? I thought that we believed in the politics of inclusion? This new political landscape seems very foreign to me. Yet, I live in the USA and it is not so foreign to me there. Perhaps we have a diet of American TV for a reason-perhaps Friends and Ally McBeal have made us think that all Americas are funny and tender and inclusive and thoughtful like the girls in Sex in the City-that at the end of a busy day they take stock and make amends. No. This is a big fucking lie.
All afternoon I heard not one solution from my friends. I just heard hate. When I asked about solutions there was a terrible silence. After all, we know about ‘solutions’ in Germany and Yugoslavia. We know about Rwanda-about Soweto. These ‘solutions’ become increasingly more popular to people when they are manipulated to hate those they share their community with. We have seen concentration camps in the last twenty years in colour on our very own continent.
It was clear to me that we are creating/have created an environment where the people of the white ‘generous’ world will agree to any action taken against Iran or the so-called axis of Evil or Muslim world. We are being prepared to hate so that a war becomes inevitable. The innocents are forgotten-we are forced to forget or to reconsider how innocent they really were. The Brazilian was wearing a heavy jacket and carrying a back pack (lie). The Forest gate men were child pornographers. Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Do not think about the children under the rubble or the point-blank horror of the Brazilian electrician. Do not consider the terrible loss of life everyday on the streets of Iraq. Think about this: we are running out of resources at an alarming rate. Who controls those resources? Who has a trillion dollar debt? Who is making a fortune from all of this? Who will profit from our fear? From the death of innocents? From the death of our own evolved culture?
I suggest that our threat level be increased to its very highest level. Why? Not because we are scared of liquid explosive allegedly planned to cause havoc in the skies but because the very people we think are our friends are quietly and determinedly with perfect white teeth are eroding our culture and the things we hold dear.
Radix malorum ex Cupiditas
August 9, 2006 – Wednesday
my little soldier friend Luke just left. it is quite late. he is so sweet and polite. he kills people in Iraq. that is his job-like thousands of others. he is not liberating-he is at war. he is not doing what we were told they would do by our government. he told me that he killed an eleven year old boy who tried to shoot him because his father had been killed by british troops. today I had to deal with shit film people in LA-my job. let’s make a film about war, about mass migration about 9/11. let’s make a comedy about-FUCKING HELL. The suits where I work are not used to people like me with an opinion. JD and HK sitting in their office jerking off over girls on their lap tops-name dropping because that’s what we do for a living. I do not have to shoot an eleven year old boy in the neck because I have to-to save my own life. My friend Luke is only 19. I may include what he said in a script some day-that’s fair game isn’t it? Today they wrote about me in the newspapers-I was mentioned in the Evening Standard. They were saying that I (Hollywood Director) just moved to Whitstable. That is so funny. They think I just moved here. They don’t know that I am already meeting the sons and daughters of my high school friends who never moved away. They don’t know the contempt I have for most of the people I meet in LA. Let me tell you one decadent moment from my Hollywood life. I was at the private house of a well-known actor. I was waiting in line for the bathroom sandwiched between two other well-known actors. A young girl started flirting with one of theses well-known guys. She was drunk, she said she would do anything for these guys. She was their biggest fan. Anything? You’d do anything? The girl nodded brightly. So one of these guys who had been waiting in line for the bathroom for some time took a piss in the girl’s mouth whilst the other recorded it on his telephone. Luke is already being briefed about Lebanon. The cards are already stacked. Tonight another girl will let a famous man piss in her mouth. when I get back to LA I will go to Hyde and try my luck with a gorgeous actor. Tonight I rearranged my dining room. tomorrow the gas man will come and read my meter. yet again I am torn between my two lives. my two selves. betwixt what is right and what is wrong.
Budd House Summer Party
The Budd House Biennial garden party thrown by Charlie Parsons and his partner Lord Alli is always a delight. Set in the grounds of their 17th Century home in 25 acres of perfect Kent Sussex rolling down. I refused to eat all day as I knew the food would be excellent and wanted to eat as much of it as I could. I took my friend Melanie de Blank who wore an Indian soufflé of shot silk black currant pants and a heavily embroidered mid length coat. I wore a brand spanking new Dolce and Gabanna raspberry, silk velvet jacket and linen trousers and violently pink shirt remembering that it was Diana Vreeland who said that ‘Pink is the navy blue of india’. The party includes a huge fun fair (no waiting for anything) including a helter skelta, carousel, bumper cars and candy floss. There was a hot air balloon-taking people on short rides above the house. I have only ever been to that house during a party. Of course I had a good look around. Their home is so comfortable and gracious and reflects so well on the owners. You can tell so much from where a person lives and how they choose to decorate and the things they surround themselves with. I had a sponsor in LA who had a huge-I mean thirty foot-crystal octopus in his hall. It was rather cold and grandiose-a bit like my ex-sponsor.
Guests at the party included John Reed the Home Secretary with very, very good-looking special branch who whisked him away far too early after dinner. It was amazing just how many people he travelled with. Who could not consider themselves important with that sort of coterie? We met Peter Mandleson (no special branch) wearing cricket whites who still maintains a lofty hauteur. Mandleson does not walk-he glides. Sadly, it was not the time or the place to challenge either of them about Blair sucking Bush’s cock-although I was tempted. I think that special branch would have removed my plate of hot smoked salmon; man handled me into the balloon and cut it adrift.
There were other politicians there (Valerie Amos who looked stunning) as well as the Mitcham and Morden labour party members who arrived in a coach and were having a whale of a time. There were many entertainment industry people reflecting both Charlie and Waheed’s stella careers in TV. Michael Foster, who changed into a very nice Etro shirt in the lane behind his Mercedes in the car park, told me that he had sold his company recently-who can’t be impressed by Michael’s tenacity? I was so pleased to see him again as when we last met I had been rude to him-it was years ago at the premiere of Mortal Kombat in Edinburgh so I took this opportunity to apologise. It is terribly important to make amends. That moment has haunted me for ten years. I was drunk and fucked up and nasty and that night ended up face down in a puddle of my own (I hope) vomit. I had been very rude to Joelly Richardson too that night asking her where the lesbian bars in Edinburgh were because I told her she looked like a lesbian-I go red just thinking about it. It was such a relief to finally say a big heart-felt sorry to Michael.
The great thing about making amends is that after you have truly offered them, it is then up to the person to whom they have been made whether they accept them or not-but that bit is nothing to do with me, the accepting part. What one cannot do is make any amends expecting a good outcome, some people will never be able to accept an apology but that is the way the cookie crumbles. Keep your own side of the street clean. It is the truly meaning part of any amends which makes any apology important. Saying sorry when you do not mean it is very bad indeed for ones spiritual well-being.
I saw Guy M who told me that Jamie P my ex is now two years clean-that made me very happy. Jamie now lives in New York and works his CA programme. When I remember the chaos of our violent, drugged relationship it makes me feel very sad. I still have scars on my back from our fights. Yet, it was that relationship that shook me to the very core of my being and eventually got me clean and sober. I remember day after day praying to be relieved of the obsession of JP. It was because of that intensive praying that I learned one of the great secrets of recovery-to be brave enough to hand over any fear, anxiety or obsession that I may have to the God of my understanding. I leaned that if you have a guiding principled, higher power in your life-one has perspective. Eventually! It all takes time. I am still working it every day. As I sit here and write I know that I am kept safe by my benevolent higher power-what ever may happen to me in life or death.
It is apparent to me that most people live in a world of petty resentment and greed. These people do not have any God in their life and quite frankly, they scare me. I am not saying that one has to be a saint. All one has to do is try to follow a simple set of principles. God knows that I fail.
Other notable guests included Julian Clary who looked portly in a grand sort of way-we have never had much to say to one another. I spent most of the evening talking to my friend Rob and the delightful Paul O’Grady aka Lily Savage who I will have lunch with this week. He loves oysters. He is such a tower of strength; he has had two heart attacks in four months. Paul talked honestly about how being seriously ill had scared him. You know that Paul/Lily has been so much a part of my life since I was a young gay man living in London and going to gay bars. He used to work in the Elephant and Castle pub which held amateur drag nights which I would never, ever miss. There was one drag artiste called Rose-Marie who only really sang two song (I Who Have Nothing and My Boy Lollypop) and as many dresses. Rose-Marie had exceptionally long arms and was not a very attractive woman and an even less attractive man. When she sang Lollipop she would throw lollipops into the audience. Sadly, Rose-Marie was murdered by some young boy she picked up. Lily used to work in that bar and thought to himself-I could do better drag than that. He sure did. The Vauxhall Tavern every Sunday Lily was there and I am sure he did the Two Brewers in Clapham. Adrella, The Trollettes and Regina Fong-why drag was such a huge part of my gay entertainment I do not know but it was theatre in our bars and I loved it. Regina/Reg was in AKA, just a little part-he died last year.
There were the usual Kent queens who I did not speak to and they me. They are so funny and ugly and STUCK. Of course I have been an ass but to keep hating me after so much water has flowed under the bridge-it is absurd and says more about them than me nowadays. Much to the amazement of people who do not know me very well I really find it hard to hold a resentment. Those Kent queens have made it their lives work.
Even though they were giving me the cold shoulder I met many, many people. As well as John Reed the Home Secretary there was John Reid, Elton Johns ex-manager off to the Hamptons for a month. Beverley Knight is charming and was thrilled that Joni Mitchell once owned my home in LA. There were at least five TV presenters and news readers-I saw one of them and his boyfriend in the sauna looking very sexy. We had a grand time finding the chocolate fountain, which was hidden on a lower lawn by the ha-ha. We dipped strawberries, pineapple and profiterioles into the liquid chocolate and watched the moon come up over the Kent countryside.
Melanie and I left at 1 and were in bed by two in Whitstable. Today Phil H and her daughter and the Piettes (all five) are coming for lunch so I had better get my apron on. Cooking lunch in Whitstable for 10 people on a barmy sea-side Sunday. I love it.
PS Melanie cooked the lunch-she can’t stand anyone else in the kitchen. It was an Italian feast of roast potato and rosemary and garlic and three huge chickens which we cut into quarters. A delicious salad of rocket and various green leaves. Strawberry’s drenched in clotted cream and vanilla sugar. We set the table in the garden then at 9 that night when the tide came in we all swam in the absurdly warm water.
Chris P and Sebastian Horsley in London
Sebastian Horsley’s Birthday Message to me this year:
Happy Birthday cocksucker. Hope it’s your last
Are you amazed that you have arrived at middle age without having syphilis?
Is it a terrible shock that you are getting too old to die young?
From now on I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do. Except grow old. After a lifetime of defeat we shall become senile delinquents.
So big boy. Stay Youthful: Watch the posture. Dress young. Keep your hair on. Hold it all in. Improve the bad bits. Avoid the daylight. And remember…There is only one real way to avoid getting old. hang yourself while young.
I met Sebastian Horsley in Edinburgh when I was 22. HE looked like a pop star. I was in a show ‘devised by actors’ and directed by Neil Bartlett called PORNOGRAPHY-a Spectacle. Ivan Cartwright, Robin Whitmore and me telling the audience through the medium of mime, physical theatre and contemporary dance what sort of sexual antics we got up to. We sang and danced and stripped and simulated sex and talked about the history of gay sex in London. It was Neil, at this time, who introduced me to Teleny-The Diaries of a Marianne, pornography attributed to Oscar Wilde. In my retelling of the story of Dorian Gray it is this book that Henry Wooten gives Dorian Gray rather than A Rebours (Huysmans). Teleny’s stories lingered with me for many years and so it seemed perfectly natural to use them in my version of Dorian Gray.
The show played at The ICA in London, “Now there are 4 queens performing on the Mall.” Neil used to say. We pulled in the punters, packed houses every night. The queens loved us although it took me a bit of time to get up to speed. I was petrified of the leering audience. Each night the others would try to assuage my fear by massaging me. That sort of stuff never works. I just get even more anxious. I over come my fear by having an almighty row. And, until I had a huge row with Neil, the director, I was dreadful. After the row with Neil, however, I found my performance and pretty much stole the show.
Ivan Cartwright is a wonderful, glamorous northern drag queen. He used to look like Bianca Jagger, a seasoned performer, he was well-known for his cult stage show in gay bars and arts centers performing alternative drag-not Judy, Lisa or Barbra for Ivan. Oh no, he came on as Imelda Marcos flinging shoes into the audience. More disturbingly, for some of the audience, Ivan did a cracking Myra Hindley.
Whilst we were on tour in Nottingham we went to the Nottingham Ice Rink (Home of Champions) where Ivan was going to teach me and Robin how to skate. Ivan was wearing a short black boucle skirt. After a while of us screaming and falling on to the ice we started attracting altogether the wrong sort of attention. It was obvious to everyone else on the rink that the very gay cast of PORNOGRAPHY-a spectacle was there; they didn’t appreciate our gayness-they began to circle us threateningly on the ice. Ivan whispered to us both to slowly start moving toward the exit. Tearing our skates off we were chased out of the building by a hysterical, Nottingham, homophobic mob. We fled through the front door. 6 yards behind us they were gaining ground-we could hear one particular girl’s voice screaming vile abuse at us. Hearing her shrill, youthful voice Ivan suddenly stopped in the doorway, rounding on them all with such a fierce model turn that they stopped abruptly, as one, in their tracks. In the face of this magnificent drag queen the ugly mob stood silently. Robin and I hid behind Ivan. The poorly dressed, screaming girl fearlessly took one step toward us. She spat on the floor and screamed at Ivan, “You are a fucking QUEER!!” Ivan, gathering himself up like he was performing his finale at The Black Cap, slowly raised his hand, pointed a bony finger at her and said,”My dear girl, I’ve heard what you’ve had to say about me-and what you say is correct. I am a fucking queer! Now you listen to ME! I shall tell you something about YOU. One day, young lady, you will have a child and I shall tell you now-that child will be GAY! Undoubtedly, my dear-you will learn to love that gay child-as my mother loves me.” It was like a spell had been cast. The mob looked at her appalled, the girl’s eyes widened in horror. She stood silently for a moment then she started crying. Ivan swept out of the building. I know in my heart that the girl had a gay child. I know it. Ivan’s powers were legendary.
We went to Venice together a few months after the show-him in full drag. I don’t mean bad drag I mean-really chic. We were in Harry’s bar and a Texan started proportioning him, which Ivan let happen for many, many drinks. I sat on the edge watching a far better spectacle than the one we had been performing. Toward the end of the night the Texan said to Ivan, “You’ve a very deep voice honey, have you got a cold?” Ivan let out a drunken screech, “It’s a lot worse than that daaarlin.”
Ivan did not come to Toronto with us on tour. Sadly, he stayed in London. Things got very bitter and twisted in Canada. I really thought I was a huge STAR by then. We were performing in the Poor Alex Theatre, which was tiny. I was only ever wearing black and kabuki white make up and pearls and drinking for England. There is one particularly bad picture of me taken at this time-it is almost worth scanning. Remember I had only just come out of prison. I was insane! Poor Neil really did a brilliant job of dealing with me. He was a saint.
Until we got to Toronto I had never met anybody with HIV or AIDS. I stayed with a couple of good-looking young men who were both positive. Then, to be positive was as good as dead. It was terrible. I never looked back to see if those men survived, a couple of years later every man I had met in NYC was dead.
Anyway, we are in Edinburgh on our UK tour of freezing theatres and I meet Sebastian. He was working for and being rodgered senseless by the famous, married ex con, murderer Jimmy Boyle. Jimmy ran a gallery there in Edinburgh and though him I met Richard DeMarco the gallery owner and Dione Henderson the art collector. They were so sweet to me. So, after the tour ended I moved to Edinburgh and the next chapter of my life unfolded as a gallery assistant. I moved into a huge apartment with Dione and her three children. I loved Edinburgh, walked everywhere, getting used to the smell of the brewery. I love a city with a mountain in the heart of it.
It was in Edinburgh that I met Jay Jopling for the first time. He stormed into the Demarco Gallery, he was wearing a poncho and demanded to know where Joseph Beuys was. When I told him that Joseph was at home in Germany Jay was FURIOUS. He didn’t believe me. I just stared at him. “I want to talk to Richard (DEMarco)?” he screamed, I just looked at him, looked at this great big charming crow of a boy flapping around in his poncho and smiled. That was the beginning. The usual gayness happened at some point but it might have been after the dance floor ecstasy moment we had in a gay club with DM and LJ and MN in Kent of all places. Dancing to Pink Cadillac. Riding in the back-cruising down the streets-spending all your money on a saturday night. Pink Cadillac. Until Jay got really famous we were really good friends. When I had my nervous breakdown it was he who collected me from the hospital. When he had his first Damian Hirst show it was me he dragged a head of the crowd and said “Look at the titles-they are genius.” I was so proud of him. It was at my house that he and Maia Norman came weekend after weekend. Maia left him for Damian Hirst. Jay was a real friend and my first real friend lost to celebrity.
I know that his other friends grumble about being left behind or abandoned but that is what he always wanted, the life he bargained for. I really don’t blame him. I am really happy for him. I am! Despite the art connections and the poncho-Jay never really made it as a a Dandy, he is brilliant businessman.
Sebastian Horsley, on the other hand, is a true dandy. He wears three-piece suits with Chartreuse lining. The knot in his tie is as big as a fist. I have seen him lose his wife and battle an addiction to crack cocaine. He and I were with each other the night they buried Diana of Wales. It was a dark night in London that night. He is a loyal friend who writes a sweet note every time we meet. I have pictures of him swimming with sharks, fucking a woman with no arms or legs, being crucified in the Philippines. I remember him wild-eyed on crack storming the streets of Soho hunting for prostitutes. I think he is perfectly normal.
Sebastian lives on Merde Street in Soho. On his front door are the words. THIS IS NOT A BROTHAL, THERE ARE NO PROSTITUTES HERE-which is total lie. There are always prostitutes there-in Sebastian’s bed. I think that it was in Merde Street that I hid from a gang of skin heads. Ivan had persuaded me, before a performance of PORNOGRAPHY, to dress in high heels, a mini dress and a long black wig and pose in Berwick Street market whilst he took photographs. I have no idea why-this behaviour is simply a result of hanging out with a man who likes dressing up in women’s clothing, eventually you get in on the act. “Exhibitionism is a drug and by that time I was taking lethal doses.” (Quentin Crisp) Anyway, as usual we had to run away from men who take an exception to that sort of thing. “The roughs are coming!”
Recently, I took a genuinely normal boy to meet Sebastian-my very sweet friend Chris P the TV actor. Chris is a an utterly charming boy. Previously I had taken him to The Colony in an attempt to delight him with a glimpse of an alternative London. My experiment failed. Chris thought that the Colony, the great beating bohemian heart of London was horrible. He didn’t like it. He looked scared. He was not interested in the art or the characters dressed in huge jewels or zoot suits. Those people in that tiny room shocked him, he was unaware of the history of that room. In that room the greatest art dramas had been played out, that Francis Bacon held court there, destroyed the confidence of his boyfriend publicly in that room. Go see the film: Love is the Devil if you want to know more about The Colony.
So, Chris and I are shopping in John Pearse on Merde Street. I bought a pink linen shirt. You know who John is? He made The Sargent Pepper uniforms for the Beatles. John owned a shop on the Kings Road called Granny Takes a Trip in the 1960’s. As we were on the same street, on the spur of the moment I wickedly decided to introduce cautious Chris to Sebastian. Chris is 5’10”. When Chris met Sebastian, 6’5″ tall wearing a lurid tie, his raven black hair swept into a huge bouffant in his rooms in Soho, he was struck dumb. He looked at the pictures of the crucifixion, the limbless woman and the sharks. He was visibly distressed when he saw the nails that been nailed into Sebastian’s hands during the crucifixion. He was appalled when I told him that Sebastian had fallen off the cross. Chris noticed the gun by Sebastian’s bed. “What is that for? Is it real? Why do you have it by your bed?” Sebastian, picking it up to show us the real bullets said, “I don’t believe in unprotected sex.”
My Dear Friends, Colleagues and Acquaintances,
today 21 small children were shattered into tiny pieces as they hid from terrible bombs that rained down in Lebanon.
Your president in the USA and our Prime Minister here in the UK are yet again united against the world in not demanding a cease-fire in the Lebanon. We cannot and must not tolerate this situation for one more moment.
My friend Karim who was in Spielberg’s film Munich is trapped in his home town of Beirut. He is frightened and unable to leave the country. He is a good man, some of you know him. In both countries today there are good men who are not full of hate for strangers, but this will change. These wars will make benign men like Karim hate other men. This is the tragedy of our age.
I urge you to do everything you can to stop this terrible carnage in Israel and the Lebanon. It is wrong. It is dangerous. It is a vile preamble for US domination in the middle east and a manipulated attack on Iran and Syria.
I urge you all to do what ever you can to help these beleaguered people in both Israel and Lebanon find a hasty peace. I urge you to call your representative in government to register your protest. I urge you to see this conflict for what it is, that these people are dying to justify attacks on a third nation. That Jews and Arabs are killing themselves to provide a smoke screen for a US/UK agenda in the middle east.
Only a few months ago Beirut was beginning to emerge as a confident democracy, there was hope for the future after many years of despair.
Did we blame the Irish people when the IRA bombed London for 20 years? Did we level Dublin because of the actions of some maniacal Irish? No, we fought a war against terror even though Irish Americans supported the carnage on our streets in London by donating money to Noraid.
I urge you, my friends, to help stop this destruction, end these lies and save the lives of more young children who will undoubtedly die. I urge you to look into the faces of your own children this evening and imagine how the parents of the tiny, shattered bodies in Lebanon are grieving today.
No more crimes against humanity. No more lies from our leaders. No more blind faith. No more biased reportage.
5:12 AM -
My Baby Drink Red Bull
My friend Randle Mann-yes the poet-he’s one of only three men who can make me howl with laughter. Gary D my casting guy makes me laugh like a lunatic. My LA friend Dom is the other person who can keep me laughing my head off all the time (constantly) I am with him. He’s a PR and I dont know how he puts up with half the people he works with.
I am still awkward and shy with most people-so consequently everybody thinks I am confident but its all a genius cover up. Ever since I went to my first gay bar when I was 17 I was crippled with shame. Gay bars are terrible places to grow up-especially 20 years ago, in London..shit..how did I survive? Not only the shame but AIDS how come I never got that? Everyone else did. Probably because I was a terrible prude and refused to have one night stands and refused to have sex just for the sake of it.
I have no idea why we treat ourselves so badly.
Gay bars do not have to be so horrible. I went to two opposite each other in Dallas with JBC a few years back, one was a typical techno bar and the other was full of line dancing cowboy types. In one it was dark and stainless steel and the music was pop/dance/hard the boys and men kept their eyes averted because if they looked it might be perceived as an invitation to have sex, which might precipitate a snub. In the other bar the lights were on, the men were dancing to be seen, there was no embarrassment. The music was understandable like the moves on the dance floor. Men stood proudly like men welcoming any attention that they might get rather than scurrying around like cockroaches in the semi dark, too air-conditioned, techno environment where any human contact or intimacy was reduced to cock and mouth and ass.
I remember Neil Bartlett saying once that if there were a gay ghetto he would move there. I love gay men at their excessive best. I love that they can, how ever macho they might appear, dress a room with individual style, deliver a brain splitting, catty remark and be that OTHER that I love.
When we lived on Fire Island in The Pines all the fancy muscle queens had twin poodles or miniature Italian grey hounds. The men carried them around on their bulging biceps or the little creatures would step out on bejewelled red lizard skin leads. I admit it I used to SNEER! I did, I am ashamed. Now, I hanker after those days because those very same men have traded in their little dogs for babies. Wombs all over the west coast are currently being rented to grow babies for gay men.
Why do I find this phenomenon so difficult to stomach? The two single men I know who have tried to have a baby seemed like such egomaniacal workaholics how would they ever make space for a baby? What is the point of getting a baby just to hand it over to a nanny on a daily basis? I asked my friend but he reacted badly, it seems that even a hint of gentle questioning is perceived as a full-blown attack. “Why shouldn’t I have a baby? Straight people can do it so why cant I?” “Straight people have been getting things wrong with kids for years-why cant I?” “I want a baby!” “Where’s my BABY!”
It feels to me like we are planting tiny little legal/emotional time bombs all over the gay ghetto-for what? I don’t have an answer for all of this. I just have questions that seem to upset people when they are asked. I don’t want to stop anybody having anything but the explanation for the ubiquitous gay baby is this: Of course I can buy a baby-its the American way. “It’s like buying a house.” I pointed out. “Exactly!” My friend threw his hands up in the air. The irony was lost on him. Another man was boasting that his baby was white and therefore more expensive. (When he left the table his friend said that the mother was a crack whore in san Antonio). Another man I know was furious that the surrogate mother of his twins had miscarried them, he said that she was a ‘bitch’ that she was ‘unreliable’.
I have always suspected that gay men in the USA, knowing that the Christian right want them gone, disappeared-think that if they make a relationship, buy a nice house, furnish it elegantly and have a baby, THEY (the Christian Right) might not realise that they (the gays) are there at all. Holding their baby toward the church gay men seem to be saying-“Look, were just like YOU!” “We can sit on the school board and be just like you.” “Look at our picket fence it’s just like yours.” “It is the American way!”
When did we decide that we wanted to be just like them? When did we opt for invisibility rather than the benign freak show that has formed my aesthetic and thinking during the past 20 years? I do not want to be like THEM. THEY are not my people but increasingly the baby owning gays are not my people either. Who are my people? European, free thinking gays? Perhaps. Peter Tatchell gays? More likely. Alternative queers? Absolutely.
I am not invisible. I do not subscribe to the notion that Brokeback Mountain was good for us and why do we have gay film festivals anyway? I do not believe that, especially in the USA, that we can integrate in any meaningful way without losing out on who we are.
In the 101 café a couple of gay men are holding their blond, blue-eyed baby above their head for all to see. My friend said, “That looks like an expensive baby.” Surely that child will ask one day, “Where’s Mommy?” Where the fuck is Mommy? Well, darling blue-eyed boy we bought the egg from an unknown woman in Texas and paid for an unknown womb in California-so there is no Mommy but don’t worry darling you are loved and that should be enough. “What? What do you mean there is no Mommy? Where is my MOMMMY!” The perplexed gay couple might say: “Straight people were doing a lot worse than this for years before we started doing it.” It is a lame answer and they know it. This morning over pancakes, as they toss the delighted child from father to father they are not thinking of the spotty, dispossessed teenager with a gun in his hand demanding answers.
Perhaps the child will not be like me and will not ask a million difficult questions about what sort of woman could do that. What sort of woman has a child and does not want to know it? What happened to that woman to make her give up her baby? Perhaps this blue-eyed, expensive, white kid will have had so many chemical solutions every time he asks a difficult question that his questioning nature will have been removed completely. Perhaps Ritalin or Prozac will do the trick? There will be no time bomb questioning-no desperate moments of desire to understand from the woman who bore him what sort of woman she was.
All I know is this: I remember the first time I saw into my father’s eyes, even though it was a photograph and he was long dead, I remember how I breathed a final sigh of relief that at last I understood who I was and the questions that had driven my emotional life were finally answered. I had recognised myself ion his eyes and where I had come from. The look on his face in one photograph relieved me of the burden of that nagging question.
The last time I was at The Abbey in West Hollywood with Randle Mann we saw two perfectly manicured, perfectly pumped and tanned men and their 6-month-old baby. They went to the bar and ordered drinks. I could see the bar man pinch the baby’s cheek. What does he drink? I imagine him say.
Randle and I looked at each other and howled with laughter.
“My baby drinks red bull.”
DORIAN GRAY-THE PROCESS
I showed Dorian Gray last Sunday. I like to show my most arrogant friends who have little regard for me because I am sure of a truthful opinion. Thankfully they loved it. My friend said that I had taken all the best bits of the novel and made it come alive.
I dont think that people in the US will get this film. Whenever Americans see it they ask a million questions without waiting for the answers that exist in the film. When I show it to Europeans they get it immediately. Theres nothing bad about this-its merely cultural. A question of a different sort of education. The history of ideas that informs a European viewer is quite different from an American. Roland Mouret the fashion designer and long time friend said-well you KNEW that was going to happen didn’t you? Frankly, I didn’t. The constant explanations required in US movies dampen and distort the narrative. The simplest explanation is all that is required, I am told this all the time. The problem with Dorian Gray is that it is novel about complex ideas and even more complex solutions.
When I decided to adapt Dorian Gray I was fascinated by two things, firstly the earlier, unpublished version of the book that was serialised in the Lippincott Monthly Review grabbed my attention. In this version it is perfectly clear that Basil is gay. He tells Dorian that he could never love a woman. He is explicit about his desire for Dorian. His obsession kills them both. The second, compelling reason for making this film was just how much of myself (and the description of my dead father) that I saw in Dorian. In fact people who have seen earlier cuts have told me just how Davids performance at the end of the film is just like ME. Obviously this was going to happen-David needed to morph into something quite unlike his role in 7th Heaven. He starts the movie like this but very quickly it becomes evident that he is changing-what he changes into is me.
Like AKA there are very highly stylised elements in Dorian Gray, the split screen the use of words on the screen-the constant references to art and artists. The film is deliberately arty and to that end I think is better suited to playing in galleries. How do we gage the value of an art film? I have no idea.
I am not frightened of this film being labelled as gay because I am and there are themes in both the movie and the book. However, it is more literary than gay. It was made for those of us who read and love the novel. I had to make a crucial decision at the beginning of my adaptation-do I make a film for people who think that they know the story or who definitely know the story. Even people who have read the novel are unaware of the age of Sybil for instance-she was 15! They are unaware that the story was written over an 18 year period-the time it takes a boy to become a man. Dorian, as played by David Gallagher, is a slim boy. We did not attempt to cast an obviously beautiful boy because beauty is subjective. For some I would never have chosen a beautiful enough boy. Beauty is subjective. Youth is indisputable.
Who is Gabriel? The most obvious and controversial departure from the original text is the character Gabriel. I was captivated by the line-‘poisonous influence of his own nature’. What did this mean? Instead of passing this by I decided to introduce us to the human form of the poisonous influence a character called Gabriel, a rent boy who may or may not have known Oscar, a traveller in time. Gabriel is Dorian’s poisonous influence-the voice of the ‘other’.
I was really worried that the final abstract chapters of the novel that chart his decent into hell would not work but we shot them anyway pretty much as they were written. In fact, these chapters work the best of all. The abstract decent into hell suits film perfectly. It is the earlier, dramatic part of the film that works more traditionally. Getting people to care, introducing them to the characters.
When we adapt a great novel we have to bring something of our own lives into the equation. It is not good enough to tell it as it was written but actually to reveal what it says about the way we live our lives now.
There has been so much discussion about what David will be like as Dorian Gray. Unanimously people who have seen his take on Dorian love his performance. They understand that they are looking at a remarkable young actor who holds the entire film together with understated, elegant performance. I love to look at David, it is apparent from the way we shot the movie that we needed to fetishise him. I needed to fall in love with David so that every frame of the film is devoted to revealing his beauty-just as Basil Hallward reveals Dorians.
Every element in this film adaptation of Dorian Gray originated from the words of Oscar Wilde. I wrote the adaptation in Sydney Australia-where I love to write. It took three months to sketch it out, to stay true to the original. Now we are making the sound track and Laura Karpman has found every musical reference in the book and is reinventing it.
It is a most exciting time.
I had not seen Jono for months. We met ten years ago in Covent Garden the day that HRH the Queen and I were having lunch at the Ivy. Of course, I was not at her table. Nor were Chris Eubank (charging his mobile phone) or Torville and Dean (too much make up) but we were, all of us, still in the Ivy that strange summer lunch time in the mid 90s. Jono was 20 years old and had-still does-the hugest most magnificent smile. He was selling throw pillows with Mao and Marx silk-screened on to them. He originally comes from the Pacific Rim and his long, aquiline nose on his face reminds me every time I see him of those huge heads on the Easter Islands. I think that I was still with JBC then and lived in Kensington.
Anyway, after the obvious cock showing and gayness we settled into a periodic friendship which usually meant that I saw him getting out of limousines with Elton or Patrick. Two things have tremendously endeared me to Jono; the first is purely selfish-he likes me. The second; a young boy over dosed and died in his bed beside him. Jono dealt with it so compassionately and well, dealing with the boy’s family and friends.
There was a Scottish boy who killed himself who used to hang around with that lot. He was from the northern most part of the isles up there in the Hebrides. He escaped the bleak north of Scotland by joining the army. I met him on a train and after the usual gayness we became friends. He was always so well dressed-so careful. However, he got in with the wrong gay crowd and one day he told all his friends that he was going to kill himself, said his goodbyes and then took enough drugs to kill three Scottish squaddies. I digress.
So Jono and I met up last Tuesday night in Soho, he was wearing a trim cut shirt and tight beige pants-Dior I think. We ate sashimi and I told him all my LA stories and he told me all of his world traveller tales. Like normal people are with rats-Jono is never more than six feet away from a celebrity at any time-they gravitate toward him so his stories are always fascinating. Art dealer and artist wife-he’s gay etc.
We wandered to café Nero to drink latte and as we were leaving a very cute, young boy passes us on Old Compton Street, the gayest street in the most liberal capital in the world. We both looked at the boy and agreed that he was cute. The boy reacted very badly and started asking us what we were looking at. I said-you, of course. You are very cute. He was FURIOUS! He started swearing and calling us queers. Well I tell you that in all the years that I have lived in London this has never happened to me.
Actually, it wasnt really happening to me. It was happening to Jono who was then grappling with this boy in a sort of pathetic argy bargy. The boy let Jono go and walked on and we were indignant but something began to overwhelm me. I was furious, absolutely furious. We kept a pace with the boy and suddenly he grabbed a bottle from a table and rushed at Jono. I grabbed the lads hand, made him drop the bottle which smashed on the road and then I took the back of the boys neck slammed his face into a parked car and beat his head with my fist. Apparently I was screaming “How dare you.” Anyway, the boy and I had more posturing on the street, including me creaming at him, “Go sell your ass in another part of town.” Then I went to Soho House for a strong coffee.
I was elated. He eventually ran off. Of course, it was like we had sex with the boy-and he with us. He wanted the attention of gay men or he wouldn’t have been there. He simply did not know what sort of attention he was going to get.
I said good-bye to Jono and gave him numbers to call once he gets to LA. Jono is one of those for life kind of friends.
two 29-year-old men
I know this guy, 29-year-old guy who was addicted to smack. He was in the Neptune tonight, he had a black eye and a grazed head. He was reeling around, out of control. He was pleased to see me because, he said, “you listen.” He hadn’t seen me since Christmas and then the summer before-so this was the third time we had met. He told me that he had told his brother about me. We sat down in the pub and talked about his drinking. He had got the black eye last night-he couldn’t remember how. He told me that his father had died drinking. “I was only eleven. Look at me I am a grown man and I want to cry.” I urged him to cry. Instead, he stood up and threw his beer on the ground outside the pub and kicked a car. I followed him and he sat down on the steps over looking the last of the sunset. He is a tall and handsome man, he has bright, intelligent, sensitive, brown eyes. He knows that I drank- that I was a drinker. He listens to me when I urge him to choose a life rather than a slow death. He listens for a moment, apologizes then asks me for three quid to buy another beer. Meanwhile my friend Karim is trapped in Lebanon. I spoke to him yesterday-he is another strong, intelligent man. He is a head strong actor. He sounded scared. I hate this-this terrible thing that is happening. I hate the lies and the double standards, I hate that my innocent, good friend is trapped in a war that nobody wants.